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The rehabilitation of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum will end his bid for the White House with a higher standing among conservatives than that he enjoyed when he launched what once appeared an entirely quixotic quest.  Unless Newt Gingrich concedes defeat with grace, he may will leave the contest a pariah on the right.

What a change this campaign brings; after Santorum’s landslide loss in 2006, few conservatives looked to him for leadership.

I’m no fan of the former Pennsylvania Senator, indeed, have mocked him on more than one occasion on this blog, but do acknowledge that, by and large, he has conducted himself with class on the campaign trail, earning the respect of one Romney-supporting blogress and the endorsement of another very highly-regarded conservative blogress and of a similarly regarded blogger.   Stacy McCain has been beating the drum for Santorum at least since Herman Cain dropped out.

Maybe Santorum is doing well because he comes across as a nice guy.  He enjoyed that reputation when he served on Capitol Hill.  Although, to be sure, the Senator has said some strange things about gays, he has treated the one member of his staff who has been publicly “outed” as gay with dignity.  Indeed, his one-time spokesman Robert Traynham said “was open with Santorum about his sexual orientation” and that he had “never heard Santorum voice an anti-gay or bigoted comment” in the ten years he had worked for him.

In addition, conservatives have been impressed with his determination, campaigning on a shoe-string and traveling to all 99 counties in Iowa in the run-up to that state’s caucuses.

Perhaps, the main reason Santorum has increased his standing on the right relates to his ability to articulate conservative ideas.  As Ed Morrissey, the aforementioned highly-regarded blogger, put it today in announcing his support for Santorum:

In my estimation, Santorum is the last consistent conservative standing, and the only one both promoting the conservative agenda and campaigning as a conservative in the race.  That doesn’t make Santorum perfect; he lacks the executive experience I’d like to see, and some of his positions in the past and present give me pause.  However, compared to the heterodoxies of his competitors in the GOP race, Santorum has a superior record on promoting conservative policies and values.

Read the whole thing.  Given that the 2010 CPAC blogger of the year has regularly supported including gays in the conservative tent, I trust that among the Senator’s positions which give him pause include his comments on gay people. (more…)

Is Newt in need of an intervention?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:28 am - February 5, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

I didn’t just turn off Newt Gingrich’s odd speech last night in order to meet my date for dinner; I also turned it off because he reminded me of an angry leftist, eager to criticize a conservative or Republican not on the merits of his opposition but in order to vent his spleen.  When I returned from dinner, I learned I wasn’t the only one who thought the former Speaker behaved in a rather juvenile manner.

Over at the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein headlined his post on the Nevada returns, Romney wins Nevada, Newt throws a tantrum, observing that after his introductory remarks,

The rest of the press conference was very process oriented and filled with bitter attacks on Romney, from his negative campaigning to his statements on the poor. Gingrich even remarked that it was “weird” that Romney fired his debate coach who had helped him through the two Florida debates in which most people thought he did well. Gingrich can talk all he wants about running an unconventional campaign, but at the end of the day, money and delegates are what matter and the prospects don’t look great for either right now.

If the former Speaker showed some grace in defeat, he might be better able to rally those Republicans not entirely satisfied with the frontrunner.

Current returns show Romney winning by about 17 points — but with only 5.8% of Clark County in.  And if the results from the state’s largest county correspond with the entrance poll, those numbers should boost the candidate’s margin; Michael Barone reports that “Romney leads in Clark County with 63% of the vote, to 17% for Paul and 14% for Gingrich.”  (“Clark County includes Las Vegas and 70% of Nevada’s population; it is more Democratic than the rest of the state and cast just 55% of the votes here.“)* (more…)