Nevertheless, all three of Tuesday’s election contests do bode well for Santorum’s chances of receiving a sizeable number of delegates when the final stages of the allocation process does take place and in the mean time, his clean sweep of Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri have provided voters with another tremor in the 2012 election cycle. It certifies this election as one which has broken the traditional mold created by past elections which usually allow Republicans to have a clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination at this stage of the game. Even more astounding about the results of yesterday’s contests were a number of factors that also include geography, money, and timing.
After big back to back wins for Mitt Romney in Florida almost two weeks ago, and another big win in Nevada this past Saturday, Romney should have established a degree of momentum that added to a sense of inevitability regarding his becoming the eventual nominee. Add to that the undeniably sizeable, professional, and well financed organization that Romney has and you had no reason to believe that Romney could lose one , let alone three, nomination contests that took place hundreds of miles away from one another on the same day. The mere fact that Romney’s abundant resources provided him with the perfect opportunity to dominate in three different races in three different regions of the country at the same time, should have made it much more difficult for his underfinanced Republican rivals to compete against him in all three states very effectively. Yet despite being out-organized, out-campaigned, and outspent by Romney, Rick Santorum who has not won a contest since Iowa back in January, not only beat Mitt, in one state, he did so in all three states and even more dramatic than that, he did so by wide margins that would seem to indicate that Romney was not even competitive. That inludes Colorado where Sanotrum won by anywhere from 5 to six percent of the vote. Technically, a win by more than 5% in any election is considered a landslide.
The results were so stunning and such a boondoggle for Santorum that it left the rest of the field with absolutely no ability to put a positive spin on the results.
Aside from a second place showing in Minnesota, Ron Paul underperformed and remains a true non-entity in his plight to capture enough delegates to have some relevance at the Republican National Convention. Of course I could be forced to eat my words if a very close brokered convention allows Ron Paul’s handful of delegates to adopt some sort of dangerous foreign policy or national security plank in the G.O.P. platform or to even determine who takes both the top spot and second slot on the Republican ticket in September. Until then though, Ron Paul has once again become a sidenote in another presidential election and will remain so until he can win a state, something which seems to be totally impossible for him to do.
Tuesday’s results were nothing but embarrassing for Gingrich. He went from establishing himself as a comeback king and giant slayer in South Carolina, to being about as successful as the Hindenburg. Being beaten by Romney would have been bad enough for Newt but to be beaten by Mitt and overtaken by Sanotrum and even losing to Ron Paul in one case, makes it hard for Newt to to try to maintain some staying power as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. It also makes it nearly impossible for Newt to raise the kind of money that he will need to compete effectively during the three weeks leading up to the Michigan and Arizona primaries, not to mention the all important Super Tuesday gaggle of contests that follows soon after that. Newt’s pathetic performance in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota now leaves him in the middle of an electoral desert and while I will not write him off, I will admit that any roadmap out of the desert for Newt must include some major stumbles and wrong turns by his opponents.
There was absolutely no reason for Mitt Romney’s poor showing in all three state’s on Tuesday. Unless of course voters just don’t like him and unfortunately for him, the evidence would seem to indicate that that is indeed the case. While Romney had everything working for him in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, his rivals had everything working against them. Yet Mitt Romney failed to move closer to the nomination and ceded valuable ground to what is a very sizeable sector of the Republican electorate that seems to be more interested in denying Romney the nomination than they are in accepting a clear alternative to Romney. This now puts Romney closer to his moment truth. He can either forge ahead by aiming his fully loaded negative guns on Rick Santorum, as he did with Newt Gingrich, in an attempt to win the nomination by default, or he can finally stop trying to play it safe and be a leader who puts forth a number of bold reforms in a concise conservative agenda that addresses the desires of the conservative electorate whose shoulders he wants to be raised to victory upon. This means no more singing of the national anthem to waste time that could be used to address the policies that support the meaning behind our anthem. It means no more platitudes about policies and conservativism, or attempts to impress the nation with his wife and sons standing loyally behind him. It means now is the time for him to step up and show us exactly why and how he can be the leader we are looking for instead of trying to convince us of why everyone else is not the leader we are looking for.
As for Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator has been given his own Newt Gingrich-like opportunity for a second comeback. I am not certain if the opportunity was because he has actually been impressing voters with his policies and leadership potential, or if he is simply the beneficiary of a vote that is protesting the perceived inevitability of Romney’s nomination. Either way, it is most definitely another chance for Santorum to establish the type of momentum that could catapult him to the nomination.
Doing so though will be an uphill battle. Santorum’s newfound opportunity will be riddled with a barrage of assaults upon his record, a record that can easily be distorted and challenge his image as a consistent conservative. Romney, Gingrich, and Paul will almost certainly transform Santorum’s prolific return of earmarks to the people or Pennsylvania whom he represented in the United States Senate into the record of big spending, big government liberal. Santorum’s conservative credentials will also be challenged based upon his one time support for liberal Republican Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in a primary against the more conservative Pat Toomey.
None of this will be impossible for Santorum to overcome, but it will help prevent him from gaining the head of steam that will be required for him to capture any sense of inevitability regarding the nomination for himself. But at the same time, Santorum’s string of victories make it certain that inevitability still eludes Mitt Romney too.
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