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Rick Santorum surges in Iowa

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Faster horses

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--Dick Morris

All along, the Tea Party voters have yet to unite behind a single candidate. They still aren’t united, but in Iowa, there is evidence that Rick Santorum may be surging ahead.

In the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) telephone poll of 23,000 supporters nationally, Newt led with 31% of the vote, followed by Bachmann at 28%, Romney at 20% and Santorum with a surprising 16%.

But on the ground in Iowa, where it counts, Gingrich has gone through a gauntlet of $10 million of negative TV ads sponsored by Romney, Paul, and the others. Without funds to defend himself, he has seen his vote share drop. Ron Paul’s has risen, Bachmann’s has fallen, and Santorum has increased quickly.

There has always been a sort of mini-primary among the Tea Party followers among Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Cain, and Santorum – the candidates they find acceptable. Gingrich’s and Bachmann’s drop, Cain’s withdrawal, and Perry’s stagnation all contrast sharply with Santorum’s surge.

The former Pennsylvania Senator has been the also ran in the field, the Rodney (I get no respect) Dangerfield of the Republican primaries. But with the lack of poll numbers has come a lack of scrutiny. These days the spotlight can get too hot very quickly. Santorum, whose conservative record is as solid as they come, is benefiting from the fall of Gingrich in a way Bachmann seems unable to do.

Ron Paul remains terrifying. He is really the ultimate liberal in the race. He wants to legalize drugs, repeal the Patriot Act, slash our military spending, pull out of Afghanistan, and remove all limits on abortion. On these issues, he’s way, way to the left of Obama. What makes him a conservative is hard to tell. But, whatever he is, he would be a disaster as the Republican candidate. His bland assertion in the last debate, that “anyone” will beat Obama is both self-serving and inaccurate. He wouldn’t. Anyone who votes for Paul and is not brought up short by his denuding us in our defenses against terrorism and his passivity in the face of Iranian nuclear weapons, has to realize that nominating him is tantamount to re-electing Obama.

Most likely now, Romney will win Iowa and go on to win New Hampshire. But then, a kind of buyer’s remorse may set in as Republicans contemplate a nominee who backs Romneycare and once supported abortion choice. His past apostasies, combined with his religion, may give Newt an opportunity to come back in South Carolina. Then the two of them will slug it out down the road. But they may have company in the person of Rick Santorum.
 

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