Santorum & the Perils of Going Off Script

Written by Josh Rogers on . Posted in Breaking News.


As Santorum suspends campaign, looks at his journey thus far

The highpoint of ’s presidential campaign was his quasi-victory speech in Iowa the night of the caucus. Although it would be weeks before Santorum was declared the winner of that race, he was still the undisputed winner that night. If the Obama campaign folks were not a little nervous listening to him speak, they should have been.

Santorum spoke of his grandfather, a coal miner, and his powerful calloused hands, connecting them to the campaign. It was an image that subtly but effectively went to the heart of Obama’s vulnerability: connecting with Midwestern, blue collar, middle class workers.

Had Santorum won the nomination, the Democrats certainly had plenty of ammunition to cast him as an extreme, right wing ideologue. Many Dems were hoping he won the nomination, but they had the same hope about Ronald Reagan, who was able to deflect these attacks with his folksy manner.

Santorum’s views on gays, birth control and other issues may very well have doomed him, but he also could connect better with some battleground voters than .

But Santorum seldom came back to that powerful hands image before dropping out of the race Tuesday. Reagan’s wife Nancy was famously able to maintain the stare of awe as she heard her husband give the same stump speech over and over again. Santorum, no movie star, was apparently not able to deliver lines repeatedly.

The Obama campaign leaders, who would undoubtedly be confident regardless, should be a little relieved that the race will be a little more predictable without Santorum.

With unemployment high and seven months to go to the election, Romney certainly has a chance, but Santorum never said he is fond of playing “sport” or talking about car racing with Nascar owners.

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