Santorum makes the case against Mitt Romney’s “electability”

posted at 1:55 pm on January 12, 2012 by Tina Korbe

At a townhall event in South Carolina yesterday evening, Rick Santorum suggested that Mitt Romney really doesn’t have any special claim to electability. According to Santorum, Romney — as the preordained, “establishment,” moderate candidate – actually resembles, say, John McCain or Bob Dole (both South Carolina victors, by the way) more than he does Ronald Reagan. CNN Political Ticker reports:

“Governor Romney – he’s run three races, lost two,” Santorum said, touting his own electoral success in traditionally Democratic Pennsylvania.

“The first race he ran as a liberal, lost to Ted Kennedy. And he actually claimed to be to the left of Ted Kennedy on many issues when he did that. Secondly he ran as a moderate and got elected in Massachusetts – didn’t run for reelection. And then ran for president as a conservative. So it’s sort of multiple choice.”

Santorum then scoffed at claims that Romney is the most “electable” candidate.

“I love this – so he’s the most electable. Says who? Where’s he ever proven that?,” the former senator asked. “He’s the most electable because the establishment feels comfortable with him. Right? That’s it. Well they’re not going to feel comfortable with me.”

Santorum isn’t the first to make the case that his electoral record is equally as strong or stronger than Romney’s. Quin Hillyer of the Center for Individual Freedom has written the same:

Usually, at this level, past performance is as good an indicator as anything else. Well, Romney’s past electoral performance is decidely weak. In 1994, as Rick Santorum was pulling an upset to win a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, Romney was getting crushed by Ted Kennedy — in a race where Kennedy actually was seen, even three weeks out, to be far more vulnerable than usual, because the tawdriness of his nephew’s late-1991 rape trial (and his role therein) combined with the overall tawdriness of his long-running behavior, combined with a nationwide revolt against Democrats, made Massachusetts voters unusually open (according to all sorts of polls and focus groups) to replacing him. But, again, Romney got absolutely crushed.

In 2002, Romney won the governorship; in 2006, he chickened out of running for re-election; and in 2008, despite all sorts of financial advantages, he found a way to lose the Republican nomination fairly decisively to a seriously underfunded John McCain, losing a long string of individual primaries in the process.

So, overall, his electoral record is 1-2 — or, if you count each state in 2008 as a separate contest, which might not be exactly fair, he’s something like 2-17. …

Which leaves, again, Santorum, having won four of five elections and overperformed so far on the presidential stage, and Romney, having so far lost two of three elections and badly underperformed on the presidential stage. So it makes no sense at all to assume that Romney is more electable in the fall against Barack Obama’s $800 million.

At the website RealReaganConservative.com, “Jack from Manhattan” makes a similar point:

The most insulting thing to conservatives about this argument is that it says that conservatism and electability are mutually exclusive. History says otherwise. Ronald Reagan, the standard bearer of modern conservatism, was unelectable. He was too conservative, a reactionary, and a deluded old fool who would bring about a nuclear war.

Of course he won two back-to-back landslides (44 and 49 states, respectively), and he did it, not by being a moderate, or seizing the center. No, on the contrary, Reagan did what Mark Steyn best describes. As Steyn points out, Reagan did not win by moving to the center. Rather, he moved the center towards him. That, Steyn says, is why Reagan was great. He knew how to speak to independents and centrists without losing his principles in the mix. He was a conservative who could move the center.

Romney has no such record. Candidates who have had success doing this are the unelectable Rick Santorum (in Pennsylvania, every bit as blue as Massachusetts, where he was successful in doing it four times) and the unelectable Michele Bachmann (in Minnesota, also every bit as blue as Massachusetts, where she was successful in doing it three times).

After New Hampshire, pundits proclaimed Santorum’s chances of actually winning the nomination to be slim to none. Polls show that Romney leads in South Carolina and Florida. That’s fine with me if voters actually prefer Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum and the other candidates — but if Romney is pulling away from the pack just because voters think he’s the most “electable,” that’s weak. Like many voters, my first priority is to beat Obama with anyone to the right of him — but, unlike many voters with that priority, I don’t necessarily think the way to do that is to try to predict a candidate’s electability. Instead, I’d rather we pick a candidate who can effectively make the case for conservatism to voters who might not otherwise hear it. Maybe that is Romney; his history at Bain has already begun an important debate about capitalism, and Romney is on the right side of it. But maybe it isn’t. Yes, national polls have indicated Romney is the only candidate who could beat Obama in a head-to-head match-up, but flip-flops are a significantly exploitable liability in the general no less than in a primary, whereas principled conviction is always attractive. No question Santorum has been more consistent than Romney — and that matters.


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angryed on January 12, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Oh my God, Nikki Haley might be more prone to supporting Romney because he backed her in her election, helping her more than any other supposedly conservative person in the party?

Well now, that just changes everything. Getting support from someone should never make someone more likely to support them, it’s just morally bankrupt and makes them prostitutes!

Signed, angryed. AKA, Mr. Thick.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

We aren’t saying you’re calling all of them harlots Mr. Thick. We are saying that it’s stilling annoying that you’re calling women who you have a disagreement over candidates with harlots.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

For the 197th time. It’s not that I have a disagreement with her. It’s the fact she sold herself to the highest bidder. Why can you not grasp this very simple point?

Romney paid her $36,000 for the endorsement. If that’s not a political whore, I don’t know what is.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Romney is not a McCain.
In ’08 Romney was in fact the Not McCain. Old McCain ran a horrible campaign, and couldn’t raise $. Mitt will raise $, and IF he excites the base, huge $.

Willard raised tons of money in 2008 as well and was still beaten by somebody you call an underfunded, horrible campaigner.

Valkyriepundit on January 12, 2012 at 2:59 PM

First, what would have been great is if we could run against the coming nightmare of Obamacare. Now, unfortunately, we can’t.Too bad soo sad.

And Also

Bain will be used effectively in the general. And , Tine, he’s not on the “right” side of the debate about capitalism. Capitalism isn’t being debated. The average voter isn’t thinking in such terms. In the general Bain will be used with full effect because of the human intereset angle. The sob stories juxtaposed with Romney’s huge profits could be enough to suppress the blue collar republican/independent vote. Arguing “creative destruction” is not going to be a winner. Few read Joseph Schumpeter before they vote.

Romney’s defense so far has been “well Obama did it with GM”. That defense sucks. I really wish that Hannity/Rush/Allah and the rest would have let Romney mount a decent defense before saving his azz. Now his team will be tested on this in the general without yet having found a compelling counter narrative.

BTW Romney has won this. The only path for Santorum is for Newt to get out now and endorse him. That won’t happen. After Florida It may end up being Romney vs Paul and the biggest joke of a repub primary ever.

BoxHead1 on January 12, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Schadenfreude on January 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

And I expect more of our side than to attack a capitalist venture simply because they’re deranged and desperate to attack one candidate. Then again, I shouldn’t expect much.

By the way, overly flowery language and spouting off ‘I’ll fight for the right for you to say it’ doesn’t make you sound more intelligent, it just makes your high-horse so much more apparent.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Let’s see how well Santorum does in Massachusetts, and how well Romney does in Pennsylvania, and then have this argument.

Mr. Arkadin on January 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Or how well Santorum would do in PA. He is not well liked here, to say the least.

msmveritas on January 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Santorum is known as a socon who got his butt kicked in his home state. That’s not the droid we are looking for, it an economy based election.

hanzblinx on January 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

I’ll go ahead and quote my previous post.

Oh my God, Nikki Haley might be more prone to supporting Romney because he backed her in her election, helping her more than any other supposedly conservative person in the party?

Well now, that just changes everything. Getting support from someone should never make someone more likely to support them, it’s just morally bankrupt and makes them prostitutes!

Signed, angryed. AKA, Mr. Thick.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

But please, go ahead and keep calling her a harlot. It’s certain to make people come over to your side, and not make you come off as an @sshole.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Oh my God, Nikki Haley might be more prone to supporting Romney because he backed her in her election, helping her more than any other supposedly conservative person in the party?

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

I know you’re not this much of a simpleton. You know fully well, Romney paid her $36K in 2010 in order to get her endorsement in 2011. But then again you think Romney is a conservative, so you probably also think the $36K was just Rommney being a nice guy.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:02 PM

But please, go ahead and keep calling her a harlot. It’s certain to make people come over to your side, and not make you come off as an @sshole.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

She’s a virtuous virgin who accepted $36K in exchange for a Romney endorsement.

Better?

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Oh my goodness, look everyone, angryed has upgraded from just being an angry, bitter, insulting person to being able to try to employ humor.

Keep this up and you might even be funny one of these days.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM

rockmom on January 12, 2012 at 2:34 PM. et al.

Point taken. I still think it’s a weak argument. I honestly don’t see anyone pulling the lever for Santorum based on this argument.

Buy Danish on January 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM

I love lightning chess but doesn’t everyone have to leap over the balcony at the end?

WryTrvllr on January 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM

And I expect more of our side than to attack a capitalist venture simply because they’re deranged and desperate to attack one candidate. Then again, I shouldn’t expect much.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

We agree. The field is, unfortunately, so wanting. On the “horses”, we all fight the way each can. The nature of the internet is what it is. Carry on and cheers!

Apathy and gulching – both are more peaceful and rewarding.

Schadenfreude on January 12, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Its pretty close in SC still. Anything can happen.

SparkPlug on January 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Let’s see what the good people at Webster’s have to say about it…

Whore – a venal or unscrupulous person

venal capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration : purchasable; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery : mercenary <a venal legislator>

Romney paid a Nikki $36K in exchange for a political endorsement.

Hmmm….now what would be an appropriate word for Nikki….I can’t quite put my finger on it.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Santorum is a seriously good guy and a reformer. He has a voting record. Of course he does. He supported the nitwit senator and helped retain a majority in the Senate so we could have two conservative Supreme Court Judges.

One of the original Young Turks who cleaned up the House of Representatives, on one has ever called him squishy or stupid or unprincipled.

I like him. And I’m quite sure HE wants my vote, unlike some front runners I can name who is throwing Republicans under the bus faster than even Obama.

Portia46 on January 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

No, please, do keep calling her a whore. Really, it saves me the trouble of having to actually argue with you to try and discredit you. Soon enough, with this line of desperate insulting and thought, you’ll just discredit yourself in the eyes of all but the most deranged of posters here on Hot Air.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Santorum got destroyed in his last contest. He’s a socon when people care about the economy. He sounds as archaic as a cold warrior worrying about a missle gap when he talks about gays and abortion.

snoopicus on January 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Portia46 on January 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM

You mean Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry right? Oh I bet it’s Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Come on, Big Money, Big Money, no Whammie, no Whammie STOP!

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Romney paid a Nikki $36K in exchange for a political endorsement.

Hmmm….now what would be an appropriate word for Nikki….I can’t quite put my finger on it.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

No, he did not. You are confusing correlation with causation. She would have endorsed him even if he had not made the contribution.

fadetogray on January 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Mary Landrieu (D) – $300 million payout to vote yes on Obamacare = Bad

Nikki Haley (R) – $36 million payout for a Romney Endorsement = Good

Flora Duh on January 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM

No, he did not. You are confusing correlation with causation. She would have endorsed him even if he had not made the contribution.
fadetogray on January 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM

He’s not confusing jack. He’s a serial prevaricator.

Buy Danish on January 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM
No, please, do keep calling her a whore. Really, it saves me the trouble of having to actually argue with you to try and discredit you. Soon enough, with this line of desperate insulting and thought, you’ll just discredit yourself in the eyes of all but the most deranged of posters here on Hot Air.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM

POINT. BEGIN!

WryTrvllr on January 12, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Mary Landrieu (D) – $300 million payout to vote yes on Obamacare = Bad

Nikki Haley (R) – $36 million payout for a Romney Endorsement = Good

Flora Duh on January 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM

You forgot the “..for the country part”

WryTrvllr on January 12, 2012 at 3:25 PM

<blockquoteNo, he did not. You are confusing correlation with causation. She would have endorsed him even if he had not made the contribution.

fadetogray on January 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM
> Quid Pro Quo

kenny on January 12, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Calling conservative a women a “harlot” is very much annoying.

Gunlock Bill on January 12, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Yes. That’s exactly it. We’re calling ALL conservative women harlots for no reason whatsoever. My, what a sleuth you are.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Says the strawman queen.

Gunlock Bill on January 12, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Romney paid a Nikki $36K in exchange for a political endorsement.

Hmmm….now what would be an appropriate word for Nikki….I can’t quite put my finger on it.

angryed on January 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM

You can at least put “political” before “whore,” you know.

I’m normally on your side, but calling Nikki an outright whore is going too far.

Maybe Nikki got the money from Mitt because she told him in private that the endorsement was coming…?

Aizen on January 12, 2012 at 3:41 PM

“The most insulting thing to conservatives about this argument is that it says that conservatism and electability are mutually exclusive.
History says otherwise.
Ronald Reagan, the standard bearer of modern conservatism, was unelectable (*by that definition).
He was too conservative, a reactionary, and a deluded old fool who would bring about a nuclear war.”
Of course he won two back-to-back landslides (44 and 49 states, respectively), and he did it, not by being a moderate, or seizing the center.

by “Jack from Manhattan” at the website RealReaganConservative.com

(*added by me into the above quote)

That entire quote at the top of the thread by “Jack from Manhattan” is some of the best writing I’ve read on this subject.
I included what I considered to be the “money line” at the top of this post by me.

Thanks for sharing that, Tina.

listens2glenn on January 12, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Romney is electable (after all, it’s his turn, just like McLame and Bob Dole). If he’s the nominee, the election results will be exactly like McLame’s and Bob Dole’s.

RoadRunner on January 12, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Electability means crap-all. McCain was electable. Look where that got us.
Romney got beat by McCain in the run-up to McCain’s disaster.
No.
Either Perry on Santorum. I love Newt, but he’s too much of a loose canon on deck. Santorum is steady eddie. Yeah he stays true to his faith. So what? Just because its not popular with the libtards (you know the jerks we’re trying to beat) we’re gonna dump him? Seriously? And Take Willard “I’m left of Ted “The Snorkel” Kennedy”? No way. No way.

Iblis on January 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Perhaps the whole “electable/unelectable” debate is silly for us to be having.

After all, WE are the ones who vote.

In November WE will choose to either vote for Obama or for the GOP candidate.

If WE can convince enough people to vote the Right way, Obama will lose.

I guess my point is, WE are the ones who make a candidate “electable” by actually electing them. We don’t have to look at some nebulous, imaginary concept of electability.

(And this is coming from a current Romney supporter).

RightWay79 on January 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Schadenfreude on January 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

And I expect more of our side than to attack a capitalist venture simply because they’re deranged and desperate to attack one candidate. Then again, I shouldn’t expect much.

By the way, overly flowery language and spouting off ‘I’ll fight for the right for you to say it’ doesn’t make you sound more intelligent, it just makes your high-horse so much more apparent.

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Schadenfreude is one of the reasons I was so thrilled to get onto HA.

Hmmm. A high horse or a walk in the muck? Hard choice there.

Portia46 on January 12, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Hmmm. A high horse or a walk in the muck? Hard choice there.

Portia46 on January 12, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Neither, if you are discerning.

Welcome and all the best.

Schadenfreude on January 12, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Let’s see how well Santorum does in Massachusetts, and how well Romney does in Pennsylvania, and then have this argument.

Mr. Arkadin on January 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Or how well Santorum would do in PA. He is not well liked here, to say the least.

msmveritas
on January 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I defy your statement.

If Rick Santorum were to campaign for his old Senate seat this election, I’m certain he would recapture it just on the basis of Bob Casey Jr’s “Obama Care” vote.

listens2glenn on January 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Dear God,

Please find a casino operator who likes Santorum.

Sigh….

And did you all notice that apparently Romney was some sort of pastor? I’ve read his resume. How could he be a pastor if he never attended a seminary or received a theological degree? And he was apparently so bad at it, no one dropped even a dime in the plate.

Portia46 on January 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM

And he actually claimed to be to the left of Ted Kennedy on many issues when he did that

Particularly the one granting women the right to float.

John Deaux on January 12, 2012 at 4:14 PM

I would hope that most people know this, but it’s nice to finally see it in print. The whole point of exposing Bain was to see how Romney would handle an attack. It was the Establishment and Republican pundits that turned it into an argument on capitalism as a distraction. It didn’t work, Romney handled it timidly by saying that it’s no different than what Obama did with GM. Huh?

Now those same people are advising him to only talk about the differences between him and Obama, of which there aren’t many. That’s why I wouldn’t vote for him. We all know who can go toe to toe with Obama.

lea on January 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Romney is the Republican’s John Kerry. Both parties worry about electability when the voters want something more than that to vote for Mr Electable.

chickasaw42 on January 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM

That’s fine with me if voters actually prefer Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum and the other candidates

Tina Korbe on Jan 12, 2012 1:55 PM

It shouldn’t be fine with you under any circumstance Tina. Mitt Romney flip flops on every issue. He adjust his position to blow with the wind and he’s part of a dangerous poselityzing cult that thinks Jesus dying on a cross makes it possible for you to get your own planet, where you can have your own wives, and create your own spirit babies. There’s a reason why Christians have hard time voting for a Mormon and you should be more concerned. America has lost it’s moral compass from the top down and if voters prefer Romney’s characteristics in their next President we deserve God’s judgement.

apocalypse on January 12, 2012 at 5:38 PM

I am so sick to death of this mantra that only Romney can beat Obama!! Latest poll I saw said Obama would beat Romney—Republicans are just plain stupid letting the media, polls and establishment choose their candidates!!! The race is far from over

Bullhead on January 12, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Someone please explain to me why “electable” is synonymous with “less conservative”.

Then someone please explain why it is that politically-engaged conservatives (like those who frequent political blogs) continue to allow the Left to frame the debate and define its terms. (No whining about “the media”.)

Harpazo on January 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Let’s see how well Santorum does in Massachusetts, and how well Romney does in Pennsylvania, and then have this argument.

Mr. Arkadin on January 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Or how well Santorum would do in PA. He is not well liked here, to say the least.

msmveritas on January 12, 2012 at 3:01 PMI defy your statement.

If Rick Santorum were to campaign for his old Senate seat this election, I’m certain he would recapture it just on the basis of Bob Casey Jr’s “Obama Care” vote.

listens2glenn on January 12, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Against Casey this cycle, with so many people upstate hurting, Santorum would do much better than in 2006, when Congressional Republicans got their heads handed to them across the board, and would have a very good chance to win.

Many of the things that hurt Santorum in 2006 (Republican off-year, supporting Specter, Terri Schiavo) are not factors anymore: this year’s Congressional success will largely be determined up-ticket, Specter is long gone (and Toomey already elected), and damn near no one remembers the whole Terri Schiavo affair.

On the other hand, Santorum’s expertise on Iran would be pretty useful in the Senate as Iran nears nuclear status and rattles its sabers against America. Casey would be saddled with the Obamacare vote, and by Democrat association with the budget crisis (and budget non-existence) we’ve had for the last few years.

Santorum’s pro-life stances would be a non-factor, as Casey also promotes himself as strongly pro-life. Also, Toomey would have a double incentive to support Santorum against Casey: (1) It makes him look good, supporting a guy who didn’t support him before (Bonus: Santorum would owe him), (2) The party leadership would want to have another Repub. in the Senate to consolidate power, and would reward Toomey accordingly.

Harpazo on January 12, 2012 at 7:50 PM

Tina,Will you marry me??! I will even become a certified RINO for you.Please say yes!

NYCguy2020 on January 12, 2012 at 9:29 PM

I am so sick to death of this mantra that only Romney can beat Obama!! Latest poll I saw said Obama would beat Romney — Republicans are just plain stupid letting the media, polls and establishment choose their candidates!!! The race is far from over

Bullhead on January 12, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Much respect to Bullhead for actually speaking truth.

apocalypse on January 12, 2012 at 11:45 PM

And Santorum is MORE electable. give me a break.

Mitt is more electable than any of the other candidates. does it mean he’s the most electable in the country. No. Is he the most of what we have running-yes.

gerrym51 on January 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Santorum may well be more electable. There’s certainly very little evidence to support Mitt being electable, and easily as much to support Santorum being electable.

tom on January 13, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Santorum would likely bring the election to Social Issues, a big loser,

WealthofNations on January 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Doubly false claim. Santorum is probably in the majority on the social issues, anyway, so there’s no real evidence those would be a “big loser.”

Besides which, Romney is not a fiscal conservative, no matter how many times you make that claim. He’s a sight better on foreign policy than Obama, but probably allergic to criticism like most RINOs.

That makes Santorum more conservative than Romney in all 3 major areas of conservatism.

All this supposed evidence that Santorum is some big-government guy is based on him being a loyal Republican during a Republican administration. Which, granted, also makes him more conservative than Romney.

Why again is Romney even in the discussion?

tom on January 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

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