Why I Like Rick Santorum

With Governor Palin not running, I’m firmly in the Anyone-But-Obama camp.

I haven’t had much to say on C4P lately about the presidential race. I’m simply gearing up for Grizzly Fest on Feb. 25th, watching the debates, and most of the time, thinking: Damn, I’m proud to be a Republican. Come November I will crawl over Obama’s hot-broken-campaign promises to support the GOP nominee.

But as long as we have official choices in the Republican party, I’d like to make a case for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Substantively and politically, Santorum would make a strong Republican nominee. I really hope he can build on his Iowa win with other victories — perhaps with help from Palin Nation.

Here is my reasoning:

Santorum speaks to middle-income, working Americans in both parties …

One of the things we love about Gov. Palin is her ability to connect with ordinary independent Americans (that and her unyielding feisty spirit). She was not willing to concede Michigan in 2008, and fought hard in states like Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, to win over folks whom the “modern economy” has left behind. Several of her Facebook posts in recent years have addressed her “union brothers and sisters” who are not well served by the “fat cat union bosses.”

We know Gov. Palin cares about Americans who lace up their Carhatts every day and get to work.

As the son of Italian immigrants, and a native of union-heavy Western Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, in my view, is the GOP candidate best suited to win over conservative working Americans and Reagan Democrats in critical swing states while standing strong on the three legs of conservatism: fiscal, social and national defense.

Rust-belt states have been devastated by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Frankly, Republicans have not been adept at addressing this painful byproduct of global free trade (and liberal government stupidity). Rick Santorum, who opposed NAFTA,  is making a bold attempt to reclaim middle-income Americans for the GOP. His tax plan calls for a zero-percent corporate income tax on manufacturers that would go a long way toward leveling the playing field against foreign competitors. Santorum believes the American worker can compete if government will stop artificially raising the cost of doing business through high taxes and excessive regulation.

As a practicing Catholic and father of seven, including a special needs child, Santorum also connects with ordinary Americans on family values. The majority of Americans with middle incomes are pro-life, and pro-traditional marriage. In a year that promises to be about the economy, Santorum combines his pro-growth agenda with a plea for stronger families – the foundation of a strong nation and economy.

Santorum authored welfare reform as a member of the U.S. Senate — essentially doing away with a federal program. He speaks to the issue of freeing people from “government dependency” in much the same way as Gov. Palin when she honors our “pioneer work ethic.” Santorum is the only GOP candidate calling for significant middle-income tax cuts: a two-tier tax code (28% for top earners and 10% for middle-income) while preserving home mortgage deductions and tripling the child tax credit.

Santorum has a strong conservative record …

Rick Santorum spent 16 years representing Pennsylvania in Congress (4 in the House; 12 in the Senate). He has always run as a fiscal and social conservative, despite representing a blue district and a purple/blue state. That shows strength of conviction. He has overall very strong ratings from taxpayer groups. The Club for Growth noted the following (read the whole white paper for pros and cons):

– Santorum has consistently supported broad-based tax cuts and opposed tax increases either by sponsoring key legislation or by casting votes on relevant bills. … Santorum’s record on taxes is very strong.

– Santorum … was a leading author on the bill that completely overhauled the country’s welfare system. He also voted for the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996 that started the process of ending direct farm subsidies. When Congress decided that it couldn’t live up to that promise, it voted to re-establish the subsidies in 2002 with the Farm Security Act, a bill that Santorum rightly opposed. He also voted for a balanced budget amendment and a line-item veto in 1995. More recently, when he was out of Congress, Santorum opposed TARP, the stimulus , the auto bailout, and the Fannie-Freddie bailout.

– Santorum voted NO on a cap and trade scheme brought to the Senate back in 2003 and YES on opening up ANWR to oil drilling.

– [I]n 2005 … [Santorum] urged reform of Fannie and Freddie. Along with 24 of his colleagues, he signed a letter that read, “If effective regulatory reform legislation … is not enacted this year, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole.” Unfortunately, Congress did not heed this warning, and the America public knows all too well what the consequences were.

– Even when Social Security was considered the “third rail” in politics, Santorum was advocating personal savings accounts as a way to strengthen the program while giving taxpayers ownership over their retirements. In 1998, he did a town hall meeting with President Clinton advocating for personal savings accounts. In 2005, Santorum led the charge to adopt personal accounts on behalf of President Bush. He also co-sponsored a bill that would “stop the raid” on the Social Security Trust Fund. He followed that up in 2006 when he voted YES on a similar piece of legislation.

– Santorum is opposed to ObamaCare and advocates its full repeal. In a recent interview, he said that if he were president, the second thing he would do once in office after repeal, would be to end Medicaid as a federal entitlement. “We need to give a block of money to the states. We need to pare back some of these strings attached to this money, and let the states devise their own program,” he said. Santorum supports allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines and open up tax free health savings accounts.

– Santorum voted for the following free trade agreements: Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA); CAFTA; Morocco FTA; Australia FTA; Chile FTA; Singapore FTA; Trade Promotion Authority; extending normal trade relations with China.

Santorum has also championed ethics, something we know Gov. Palin has done throughout her career:

Along with John Boehner and Jim Nussle, Senator Santorum was a member of the famous “Gang of Seven” that exposed the Congressional Banking and Congressional Post Office scandals. It was this record of reform that prompted a Washington Post reporter to write in a recent article that “Santorum was a tea party kind of guy before there was a tea party.”

Santorum enjoys unique electoral advantages …

Republicans have not carried Pennsylvania in a presidential contest since 1988. It is likely to live up to its nickname as the “keystone state” in 2012. Pennsylvania could deliver a knockout punch to Obama. I honestly don’t believe he could win nationally without carrying Pennsylvania, given the erosion of support he’s seen from the independents that comprise swing states.

The midterm and gubernatorial elections in Pennsylvania last year saw a GOP near-sweep. Republicans picked up the governor’s mansion, flipped the legislature, and sent many GOP freshmen to Congress. Could Santorum bring Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes back into the GOP fold? Many will point to his 18-point loss in 2006 as evidence that he can’t. But first off, bear in mind that Pennsylvania is +10 Democratic to begin with. There are hundreds of thousands more registered Democrats here. It’s a wonder any Republican can win a statewide race — Santorum has already done it twice – defeating an incumbent Democrat in 1994, and then retaining that seat in 2000; when Al Gore won the state by four points, Santorum won by six points, showing he has appeal with Democrats.

But in 2006, Democrats returned home to their roots, and millions of Republicans sat home due to dissatisfaction with George W. Bush, his handling of Katrina and the war in Iraq. Nationally, in 2006, not a single Republican won a Democratically-controlled seat. That’s NEVER happened before. And dozens of members of the “Republican Revolution of 1994” – including Santorum – lost their seats. Santorum lost big, but by less than the margin that Republican challenger (and former football star) Lynn Swann lost to Democrat Ed Rendell in the governor’s race (20 points). Not to mention that Santorum lost to Bob Casey Jr., the pro-life son of a Pennsylvania Democratic icon. It’s not like he lost to a liberal. He lost to a conservative Democrat.

2012 promises to be a different year, and a strong one for the GOP across many swing states.

Pennsylvania is in play. So are Ohio, and likely Michigan if current unemployment numbers remain. It is likely that ANY Republican could deliver Gingrich’s Georgia or Ron Paul’s Texas … and that NO Republican could deliver Romney’s Massachusetts. That leaves Santorum with a unique opportunity to play well in Pennsylvania and the upper Midwest — and deliver the White House.

I’m not a poll person, so someone else can crunch the numbers on Rick Santorum’s chances in the primary and general election. The fact he won Iowa when almost no one gave him a chance gives me reason to be optimistic. But what impresses me most about Rick are his principles. He has been a strong voice for conservative values for 20 years. He is consistent in his political and personal life. He speaks to ordinary Americans. He never worked for Freddie Mac or hopped on the couch with the Global Warming agenda. He never collaborated with Al Sharpton on school reform. He never supported an individual mandate for healthcare. He never supported TARP or any of the bailouts. He opposed crop subsidies and has been consistently strong on national defense, and supporting Israel.

He believes in American ingenuity, goodness, and freedom.

It may be a pipe dream, but I pray Gov. Palin utters these words in her next interview: “If I lived in Florida, I’d vote for Rick Santorum.”

Because competition is a good thing, right? Let’s make them work for it, Palin Nation! Then in November, let’s unite to send Obama packing.

Update: Here was Governor Palin praising Rick Santorum’s consistency:

Update II: Santorum speaks to Tea Party group in Punta Gorda, Fla.



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I'm a mother of three, and devoted Palin blogger.

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