How and Why Did Rick Santorum Make it to April?

My Wednesday essay for The Daily Banter is up. Read and RT often!

The big news of the last 24 hours isn’t that Rick Santorum finally dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination, allowing Mitt Romney to focus his money and protocol droid attention on the general election. The truly big newsis the fact that Rick Santorum made it to April as a relatively strong candidate.

Every four years there are inevitably several candidates from each party who are, to be frank, obvious losers. There’s an expectation that the weak no-names, the freaks and the vanity projects will never reach top shelf, A-list status leaving the truly solid candidates to direct their attention at winning and not deflecting shots from the cheap seats. Some of the D-list crowd will drop out before the Iowa and New Hampshire, others will stick around as an exercise in electoral masturbation. But they’re never talked about in terms of being a potential nominee or even vice presidential short-lister.

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  • muselet

    So what does this say about Santorum and the Republican Party?

    That they’re both insane?

    That’s not just snark. Rick Santorum really, truly, with all his heart believes that the US would be a better place if we’d all adopt his chosen religion, wind back the clocks to the 1950s on social issues (to the 1890s on economic issues—to the extent, that is, that he ever thinks about economics) and for the love of all that’s good and pure stop having sex wrong! Rick Santorum is, almost by definition, barking mad and proud of it.

    The Republican Party is populated by folks who really, truly, with all their hearts believe the same—with the notable exception of which religion everyone should adopt. Santorum has been the perfect candidate for them: he won primaries and caucuses instead of being laughed out of the room every time he showed up. Having Foster Friess bankroll the campaign helped Santorum drag the process out, sure, but people were coming out to vote for the man, and in considerable numbers. That he could get the results he did with such a shambolic campaign is remarkable and more than a little scary.

    If Mitt Romney loses in November, we will not have seen the last of Rick Santorum.

    –alopecia

    • eljefejeff

      A friend of mine pointed out that pretty much every cycle, the runner up of the republican party becomes the nominee next time around. Reagan in 76, Bush in 80, Dole in 88, McCain in 00, Romney in 08. The exception would be W who never ran before 00. So I agree, Santorum will definitely be the frontrunner in 16.

      • muselet

        The Rs do like their traditional “Next in Line” (or “It’s His Turn Now”) model of nomination. And Santorum would have the added bonus of a campaign narrative: Romney lost because he wasn’t a real conservative.

        –alopecia

  • D_C_Wilson

    Bob, I would add to your list of reasons Santorum survived the fact that no one really likes Romney. Whether it’s because of his religion or his lack of authenticity, a huge swath of the republican electorate just doesn’t care for him. The amazing thing is, how someone with such extreme views as Santorum got this far. Look at the other candidates.

    Pawlenty: Dull as dishwater.
    Bachmann: Always has this look on her face that she’s one french fry away from a full psychotic episode.
    Cain: Mired in sex scandals and completely clueless about everything.
    Perry: Dumb as a post.
    Huntsman: The less interesting Romney.
    Gingrich: Can anyone spend five minutes in his presence without feeling the need to get a shower?

    Santorum got were he was, despite his medieval views, simply by being the one candidate who could speak in complete sentences while at the same time, not putting the voters to sleep or making them nauseous.