Santorum goes on offense in SC debate, but too late?

posted at 8:40 am on January 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Last night, conservatives got everything they have wanted from the Republican presidential debates.  Low-polling candidates finally have exited the stage, leaving just those who have significant support in the field.  The debaters attacked the media, which is always a crowd pleaser.  And finally, after months of waiting for a Not-Romney to go after Mitt’s version of health-care reform, one candidate made a sustained and substantive attack on RomneyCare.

But was it too late for Rick Santorum?  It’s getting pretty close to it, but as I said last night on Twitter, he’s not going to leave the race without having made his pitch, and he made it against both Romney and Newt Gingrich last night.  When asked by CNN’s John King about Gingrich’s suggestion that he leave the race, he reminded Gingrich that Santorum outperformed Gingrich in both of the previous states despite being at a money disadvantage, and unwinded that into an argument about Newt’s “grandiose” thinking and lack of a “cogent thought” about the election.  While ripping Romney on health care, Santorum included Gingrich in the criticism for his long-time support of an individual mandate, arguing that neither man would provide enough of a contrast with Obama in a debate on health care.  Gingrich responded with his “Lincoln-Douglas style debate” line, at which Santorum openly scoffed.

Santorum went after Gingrich on his claims as a reformer in the House as well.  He ripped Gingrich for claiming to have transformed the House, bringing up the two-decades old House banking scandal and accusing Gingrich of not having the courage to expose it — which Santorum claimed to have done.  Romney got in on the act by also accusing Gingrich of greatly exaggerating his connection to Ronald Reagan, noting that Gingrich only gets a single mention in Reagan’s published diaries, and a not-entirely-flattering one at that.  (The reference comes on January 3, 1983, and it mentions a Gingrich idea to freeze spending, which would have killed Reagan’s military buildup.)  Of course, it helps Romney to have Santorum go after Gingrich, which would explain why Romney seized on that opportunity.

Gingrich, for his part, started off with an explosive attack against John King his starting question about Marianne Gingrich’s interview on ABC.  He got two standing ovations for his perfectly-delivered rant, and at the time, I tweeted that Newt had won the debate in the first five minutes.  After that, though, Gingrich had an uneven performance.  Santorum’s attack wounded Gingrich, but didn’t keep him from having  a series of good moments throughout the debate and he finished strong.

Romney, however, had a second straight shaky performance.  He also had good moments, but he didn’t respond well to Santorum’s attacks.  The worst of his night came on his answers on his tax returns, which is particularly worrisome because he had the same exact problem in the last debate and obviously didn’t do anything to address his approach.  Arguing that it’s legitimate to ask for tax returns but that he doesn’t want to make them public is a very curious hill on which to die, politically speaking, and his “maybe” to King’s question as to whether he’d follow his father’s precedent both looked and sounded bad.  The sound you heard in the background, apart from the boos, was the sound of a hundred attack ads being cut at the same time.  I can hear the voice-over now: Will you release your tax returns now? “Maybe.” Will you take care of the middle class and not just the rich? “Maybe.” Will you actually repeal ObamaCare? “Maybe.”  Will you go to war against Iran at the first possible moment? “Maybe.”  (That one would be from the Paul campaign, of course.)

Speaking of Paul, he had one of his better debates last night, likely because foreign policy never got mentioned.  On two occasions, he had to demand time from King to answer questions offered to the other three candidates on stage — and both were on health care-related issues.  Even though Paul kept trying to bring the war in Afghanistan into his answers, the avoidance of national security as a topic worked in his favor, and the crazy-uncle moments were greatly diminished.  For once, Santorum didn’t bother much with Paul, and neither did anyone else on the stage.

Overall, Santorum won this debate, with Gingrich a close second.  Santorum needed a win, but he also needed to derail both Romney and Gingrich.  Santorum gave it his best shot, but I’m not sure it’s enough of a game changer in regard to Gingrich to generate a surprise finish in South Carolina.  Gingrich, however, probably saved his momentum with his attack on the media in the beginning and did well enough afterward to maintain his current standing in the race.  Romney has to worry about what a loss in South Carolina will mean for his campaign, perhaps for the first time, after this debate performance.

 


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Romney is too timid, Newt is to erratic and Santorum is to controlling. I can’t wait until November.

Cindy Munford on January 20, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Obama will fold the Texas economy into his national numbers and since the only guy that could have stopped him from that or stopped him from blaming Bush has left the race Newt is probably the only guy left that can argue Obama on that.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

of course its too late

gerrym51 on January 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Overall, Santorum won this debate

I’m shocked that Ed would think so. Better to just ignore his knee-jerk reactions for more government.

Dante on January 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM

He seems shy and uncomfortable compared to the others.

CTSherman on January 20, 2012 at 8:49 AM

You know who else was considered shy or “silent”? A mostly forgotten President called Calvin Coolidge. And right now, more than ever, we could use more of him.

LoganSix on January 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM

MTLassen on January 20, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Took the high road? He has stuck to the same schtick in all the debates. Namely, attack the media, spout vacuous pronouncements, and generally feed his narcissism.

He finished 4th in Iowa behind Paul and Romney/Santorum. He also finished 4th behind Javier Huntsman and Paul. He has ZERO delegates.

There is a reason he never had a shot. It’s because those voters have him figured out. And in Florida, where many folks are living off their investments are not going to be fooled by Gingrich because they see his attacks on Romney’s success and taxes as attacks on how they fund their retirements.

csdeven on January 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM

And right now, more than ever, we could use more of him.

LoganSix on January 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Mister, I thought we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.

Dante on January 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM

The only acceptable candidate on that stage from my perspective was Newt…and he only gets my approval by default.

Just say no to career office-seekers who will tell you what you want to hear to win political office (Romney) AND big goverment socio-cons with room temperature IQs (Santorum).

Looks like I’m throwing my support behind the filanderer.

DRayRaven on January 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM

As for Romney, I’m still trying to wrap my head around why everyone in the right say he would be the only one to beat BHO. Oh, and that he is electable. Well, if last night was any indication – um..no he isn’t. BHO would chew him up and spit him out. Oh, and his comment to Newt about Newt appearing only once in Reagan’s book – was petty. The guy is a robot for the establishment RINO.

gothicreader on January 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Have you seen the head-to-head polling? As for the Reagan remark, Gingrich was trying to take credit for basically every success from the late 70′s onward and talked up the Reagan connection…it’s perfectly fair game to point out Reagan himself didn’t see that.

And, the establishment stuff is really wearing thin. Newt has been a Washington fixture, as he himself said last night, for decades…he’s no outsider, or grassroots champion.

changer1701 on January 20, 2012 at 10:09 AM

I just want to know who he’ll endorse when he bows out.

The tipping point for me was when he defended SOPA.

JellyToast on January 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Santorum and Paul did well last night, but Casey Anthony will be president for either of them. Which leaves it to Romney (who after a week of knowing the tax return issue was not going away, still had no coherent answer, in fact a worse one) or Newt (who Santorum was right about — when you wake up each day you’ll worry what he’s going to say or do).

Ollie, what a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

TXUS on January 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

He is a social conservative but a big government lawyer.

stenwin77 on January 20, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Excellent discription of Santorum!

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Just say no to career office-seekers who will tell you what you want to hear to win political office (Romney) AND big goverment socio-cons with room temperature IQs (Santorum).

Looks like I’m throwing my support behind the filanderer.

DRayRaven on January 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Gingrich has spent a considerable amount of his career either seeking office or trying to influence those that hold one. And, he’s totally just saying what you want to hear to win.

changer1701 on January 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Petunia…why did you change your name to BettyRuth?

kingsjester on January 20, 2012 at 9:43 AM

One of the most annoying, immature commenters here.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM

before either of them.

*going for coffee*

TXUS on January 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Petunia…why did you change your name to BettyRuth?

kingsjester on January 20, 2012 at 9:43 AM

One of the most annoying, immature commenters here.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Typical Romney drones

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Gingrich has spent a considerable amount of his career either seeking office or trying to influence those that hold one. And, he’s totally just saying what you want to hear to win.

changer1701 on January 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Maybe so, but he hasn’t changed from being a pro-choice liberal running to the left of Ted Kennedy to a pseudo-Reagan Republican, either. Gingrich may not have a spotless conservative record, but he hasn’t taken both sides of every position depending on the electorate he was playing to, either.

DRayRaven on January 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Romney talking hunting reminds me of the socially awkward comic book geek who fools no one in the office when he feigns excitement about a big game.

flyfisher on January 20, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Every office in America has one of those guys. HA!

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

The tipping point for me was when he defended SOPA.

JellyToast on January 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Just to be clear JellyToast, Santorum stated he would not vote for the current SOPA bill because it is too broad. Santorum does believe that intellectual property does need to be protected though and did seem to endorse some form of internet regulations to achieve it.

There is no doubt that Santorum is not going to get the nomination. However, I believe he was substantively right in his assertions of the policy failings of Romney and Gingrich. Where he fell flat was in his delivery. So, for me, if it is to be between Romney and Gingrich–I definitely choose Gingrich.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

The anti Newt clan declares the debate won by Santorum!
Yee gads!

Amjean on January 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

I didn’t like our choices going into last night and nothing they said changed my mind.

As far as Santorum winning the night, not in my book. He comes across as whiney and IMO he’s a big govt. Republican.

CoffeeLover on January 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM

or Newt (who Santorum was right about — when you wake up each day you’ll worry what he’s going to say or do).

Ollie, what a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

TXUS on January 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

I, for one, do not worry about what Newt will say from day to day. The media will take anything these guys say and spin it the way they want and Newt is the only guy who will have a cogent response.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM

UNLEASH GINGRICH IN 2012!!!

Czar of Defenestration on January 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM

You mean, “unzip Gingrich”? :)

Archivarix on January 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM

The tipping point for me was when he defended SOPA.

JellyToast on January 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Just to be clear JellyToast, Santorum stated he would not vote for the current SOPA bill because it is too broad. Santorum does believe that intellectual property does need to be protected though and did seem to endorse some form of internet regulations to achieve it.

There is no doubt that Santorum is not going to get the nomination. However, I believe he was substantively right in his assertions of the policy failings of Romney and Gingrich. Where he fell flat was in his delivery. So, for me, if it is to be between Romney and Gingrich–I definitely choose Gingrich.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Santorum may be against the current form of SOPA, but he all too willing to turn to government for solution. Aren’t there free market solutions to online piracy?

I have a various times supported Cain, Bachmann, and Perry. After taking a hard look at all three, I believe Perry was the man for the job. I resent Bachmann’s attacks on Perry. I also resent Michelle Malkin’s attacks on Perry. But that’s all water under the bridge. At this juncture I too support Newt. He’s a brilliantly flawed fighting conservative. At least I have confidence he would give Obama hell. He won’t wimp out like McCain.

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Per usual, Santorum looked extremely childish and argumentative last night…very unprofessional for a potential Presidential candidate. I think most people as tiring of Santorum’s constant griping and complaining during the debates, and view him as a whiner who is desperately trying to re-insert himself into the race. Santorum needs to go ahead and drop out. He’ll definitely finish last tomorrow in South Carolina.

jfs756 on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Typical Romney drones

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Ha! You really need to pay more attention.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Romney was superb last night, albeit he needs to get the tax return issue behind him.

I don’t understand why Romney keeps getting bashed by all these commentators when he gives a stellar, reasoned, commanding performance.

Enough of these debates. I will be happy to learn next week that Romney will do the NBC debate in Tampa and then pull the plug on the rest. All these debates are doing is giving low-funded candidates a chance to stay in the game and providing significan ammo to Axelrod.

Enough of this crap.

matthew8787 on January 20, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Ha! You really need to pay more attention.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Are you actually saying Petunia and BettyRuth are not typical Romney drones?

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:28 AM

The anti Newt clan declares the debate won by Santorum!
Yee gads!

Amjean on January 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Have you seen any television this morning? Many people are saying that Santorum bested Romney and Gingrich in this debate on substance. In the short time I watched, Chris Wallace and other pundits agreed that Santorum had the strongest debate performance of the night and the best argument by far against Newt and Romney on Obamacare/Romneycare and the individual mandate. I’m getting a bit tired of everyone trashing Santorum–even when he gets it right.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Typical Romney drones

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Oops! I misinterpreted your comment. My apologies.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM

You know, I thought Ron Paul actually did very well last night. Of course, he wasn’t talking about Iran, Osama bin Laden, or the Military-Industrial Complex, but he’s still very solid on economics, social issues, the Constitution, and healthcare.

Newt had a phenomenal performance, but he’s too erratic of a candidate. Look at how he blew up over a question he probably knew was coming at him, and he should’ve handled it more like a statesman. I know I don’t understand how Newt felt about his past being brought up in the manner like John King did, but if Newt becomes the nominee, he can’t look undisciplined or rattled at every single criticism from the media, because – as he pointed out – the media’s going to lambast any and all of the Republican candidates, in order to protect Obama.

Aizen on January 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

The anti Newt clan declares the debate won by Santorum!
Yee gads!

Amjean on January 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Have you seen any television this morning? Many people are saying that Santorum bested Romney and Gingrich in this debate on substance. In the short time I watched, Chris Wallace and other pundits agreed that Santorum had the strongest debate performance of the night and the best argument by far against Newt and Romney on Obamacare/Romneycare and the individual mandate. I’m getting a bit tired of everyone trashing Santorum–even when he gets it right.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 10:29 AM

As Amjean said, anti Newt clan.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Santorum may be against the current form of SOPA, but he all too willing to turn to government for solution. Aren’t there free market solutions to online piracy?

I have a various times supported Cain, Bachmann, and Perry. After taking a hard look at all three, I believe Perry was the man for the job. I resent Bachmann’s attacks on Perry. I also resent Michelle Malkin’s attacks on Perry. But that’s all water under the bridge. At this juncture I too support Newt. He’s a brilliantly flawed fighting conservative. At least I have confidence he would give Obama hell. He won’t wimp out like McCain.

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

I agree with your points. However, the criticism about Santorum is a bit over the top IMO. He does not always look for big government solutions. What about the advent of health savings accounts that he authored through congress? He has been fighting against a top-down solution in health care since the 1990s. He does have turkey votes as well, but ALL of these candidates do. I truly believe that if Santorum had the likeability factor of Newt, he’d be a shoe-in as nominee because he is still more conservative by a long shot than Romney.

As to Newt, my whole reason for choosing him is because I know he will fight. Romney has no fight in him. We need a fighter in the worst way for conservative causes.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Typical Romney drones

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Oops! I misinterpreted your comment. My apologies.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Good because in my dictionary under “Romney Drone” there are photos of Petunia, BettyRuth, Haner, and Changer 1701.

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

The media will take anything these guys say and spin it the way they want and Newt is the only guy who will have a cogent response.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Can’t disagree with you there.

TXUS on January 20, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Santorum and Paul did well last night, but Casey Anthony will be president for either of them. Which leaves it to Romney (who after a week of knowing the tax return issue was not going away, still had no coherent answer, in fact a worse one) or Newt (who Santorum was right about — when you wake up each day you’ll worry what he’s going to say or do).

Ollie, what a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

TXUS on January 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Yep!

But at least America was saved from Gardisil…

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 10:36 AM

To Newt supporters: just imagine this fall when Obama gets to his RIGHT on family values. Election over.

Newt will have the tabloids, Obama the Rose Garden.

This conservative red meat that Gingrich is peddling will not win any votes among moderates, seniors, independents in the fall, and they will decide the election. I understand why GOP voters want to have an emotional repudiation of the media in SC tomorrow, but this reaction is short-sighted and totally counterproductive to winning in November.

Gingrich has no money, no organization, no discipline, no strategic plan, and no leadership skills.

matthew8787 on January 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

I like Rick, too, so I think we are on the same basic page. He is more comfortable with government than I am.

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:38 AM

I have a various times supported Cain, Bachmann, and Perry. After taking a hard look at all three, I believe Perry was the man for the job. I resent Bachmann’s attacks on Perry. I also resent Michelle Malkin’s attacks on Perry. But that’s all water under the bridge. At this juncture I too support Newt. He’s a brilliantly flawed fighting conservative. At least I have confidence he would give Obama hell. He won’t wimp out like McCain.

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Romney has no clue as to ho to wage a visceral fight…and Obama has been tutored well at it.

Gingrich has learned how to be a visceral fighter because he built his political career in the south.

Perry is a natural visceral fighter but he’s back in Texas so Newt is probably the best shot.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Good because in my dictionary under “Romney Drone” there are photos of Petunia, BettyRuth, Haner, and Changer 1701.

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Yeah. The only reason you don’t see a picture of that cs thing is because cameras can’t photograph it.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM

This conservative red meat that Gingrich is peddling will not win any votes among moderates, seniors, independents in the fall, and they will decide the election. I understand why GOP voters want to have an emotional repudiation of the media in SC tomorrow, but this reaction is short-sighted and totally counterproductive to winning in November.

Gingrich has no money, no organization, no discipline, no strategic plan, and no leadership skills.

matthew8787 on January 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Indeed. Many seem to be basing their support on the grandstanding and calculated applause lines during debates, but that isn’t going to wash with the broader electorate. I like to bash the media as much as the next guy, but come on.

Regardless, it does come down to organization and funding, and I don’t see how he competes effectively against Obama.

changer1701 on January 20, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Yeah. The only reason you don’t see a picture of that cs thing is because cameras can’t photograph it.

Vince on January 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM

I think CS is under “Romney It”

Stayright on January 20, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Santorum = big government social conservative
Newt = big government crony capitalist
Romney = big government moderate

I could care less which of these clowns gets the nomination. I suppose, for sheer entertainment purposes, Newt is the best choice.

EddieC on January 20, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Overall, Santorum won this debate, with Gingrich a close second. Santorum needed a win, but he also needed to derail both Romney and Gingrich. Santorum gave it his best shot, but I’m not sure it’s enough of a game changer in regard to Gingrich to generate a surprise finish in South Carolina. Gingrich, however, probably saved his momentum with his attack on the media in the beginning and did well enough afterward to maintain his current standing in the race. Romney has to worry about what a loss in South Carolina will mean for his campaign, perhaps for the first time, after this debate performance.

Totally disagree; I think Newt won.

I like Rick Santorum and I thought he had turned a corner of sorts by showing a more pleasant side of his personality recently. I was very disappointed in how he apparently reverted back to his old whiny, petulant, stomping his feet, red-faced self last night. Not good, not presidential at all. Similar to Michele Bachmann’s problem connecting because of her attack mode demeanor, in my opinion.

I’m hoping Newt wins in spite of Rick Santorum’s draw on the conservative vote. I think Romney hurt himself, again, on the tax release issue. Ron Paul, ugh, just a spoiler.

IndeCon on January 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Gingrich has no money, no organization, no discipline, no strategic plan, and no leadership skills.

matthew8787 on January 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

total loser? that must be why the MSM is going after him. He’s no real threat to Obama. Not.

balkanmom on January 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Hey, it just occurred to me. All the people who resigned from Gingrich’s campaign to work on Perry’s campaign are now available to go back to Gingrich’s campaign.

Dextrous on January 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

To Newt supporters: just imagine this fall when Obama gets to his RIGHT on family values. Election over.

Newt will have the tabloids, Obama the Rose Garden.

This conservative red meat that Gingrich is peddling will not win any votes among moderates, seniors, independents in the fall, and they will decide the election. I understand why GOP voters want to have an emotional repudiation of the media in SC tomorrow, but this reaction is short-sighted and totally counterproductive to winning in November.

Gingrich has no money, no organization, no discipline, no strategic plan, and no leadership skills.

matthew8787 on January 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

No…the DNC are not going to after Newt on that because of Bill Clinton….But they will go after the Newt is so craaaazy his own party kicked him out schtik & Obama will fold the Texas economy into his national numbers and say Things are gettin better folks! and Bill Clinton will nod and say yes. Newt will be dogged by his old foe Bill Clinton and independents will fall for it smiling at daydreams of the 90′s cause Uncle Bill promises it to them.

The GOP handed that tool to Obama on a silver platter when they drove Perry out of the race to prop up Romney and conservatives couldn’t unwind their panties over the heartless comment…But y’know the status quo has got to roll on.

Romney might pull it off and get his shot to lose to Obama.

I’m hopin at least Newt gets the nomination cause his campaign will at least expose creeping socialism and he’ll continue to go after the media…Perry flat out called Obama and the democrats socialists.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Amazing how we Conservatives go along with the MSM, however unwittingly. Santorum – big Govt and he does not have a chance. Newt or Romney. Spinach or liver. No, 2008 all over again.

democratsarefools on January 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Hey, it just occurred to me. All the people who resigned from Gingrich’s campaign to work on Perry’s campaign are now available to go back to Gingrich’s campaign.

Dextrous on January 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Perry loaned Gingrich his Texas team that in Texas had never lost an election…and Newt went on vacation.

Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to the clearchannel/Fox conservative media pundits if a conservative like Perry had won the nomination and beat Obama….Their livelihood is dependent on opposition to liberals & they have no real interest in achieving the success of their supposed agenda just hiking ratings by yammering about it.

think about it.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Narrowing the field allowed me to get a more extended look at Santorum.

He had some good points, but I found that the more I watched him, the less I liked his demeanor.

Santorum seemed to be shorter on specifics and longer on attacks. He also seemed prone to get bogged down in the details of the back-and-forth, especially with Romney, and lose clarity of message. For lack of a better metaphor, it’s like he was grappling too close to his opponents to land clean punches (his attack on Newt’s steadiness aside).

Of course, this is a non-verbal criticism, but I quite disliked Santorum’s personality last night. He rotated between pissy, defensive, insecure and angry and, again, spent too much time criticizing, and not enough time charting a clear reason why to vote for him.

cane_loader on January 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Santorum won the debate. Any neutral person would tell you that. Newt’s silly behavior won’t fly well in a general debate…sorry, no one is aloud to applaud and be on your side.

rubberneck on January 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Amazing how we Conservatives go along with the MSM, however unwittingly. Santorum – big Govt and he does not have a chance. Newt or Romney. Spinach or liver. No, 2008 all over again.

democratsarefools on January 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM

And 4 more years of ratings for Limbaugh,Levin,Ingraham,Hannity and O’Reilly…see how that works?

There is no difference between the MSM and the right…they are both driven to maintain what feeds them and voters fall for it.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 11:06 AM

I agree with all that saw Santorum as whiny. He does it when he is feeling the pressure. It is a clear indication that his candidacy is in ‘trouble’. ‘Trouble’ as in financially in trouble. If he can’t break above 20% in SC, with almost no hope to financially compete in FL, his candidacy is in real trouble. Thus the pressure that results in whining.

If instead he finds a way to go forward and ends up as our nominee, the general election will be all about abortion. Every time he attempts to change the conversation to the economy, the whining will once again come to the fore.

As much as I’d like to see a path forward for him, I just don’t see it. Too bad as he seems to have the most potential as our truly conservative candidate. Assuming, that is, he learned something about economic conservatism along the way.

Carnac on January 20, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Of course, this is a non-verbal criticism, but I quite disliked Santorum’s personality last night. He rotated between pissy, defensive, insecure and angry and, again, spent too much time criticizing, and not enough time charting a clear reason why to vote for him.

cane_loader on January 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Santorum reminds people of that snotty kid they hated on the playground that the teacher made them put on the team.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM

If instead he finds a way to go forward and ends up as our nominee, the general election will be all about abortion. Every time he attempts to change the conversation to the economy, the whining will once again come to the fore.

As much as I’d like to see a path forward for him, I just don’t see it. Too bad as he seems to have the most potential as our truly conservative candidate. Assuming, that is, he learned something about economic conservatism along the way.

Carnac on January 20, 2012 at 11:08 AM

He’s never led anything…no gravitas whatsoever.

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 11:10 AM

The GOP handed that tool to Obama on a silver platter when they drove Perry out of the race to prop up Romney and conservatives couldn’t unwind their panties over the heartless comment…But y’know the status quo has got to roll on.

[snip}

workingclass artist on January 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Not to totally discount your comment, but I feel that Perry sank himself, and nobody "drove [him] out of the race.”

When you are new to the national stage, as Perry was, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

He came out to a huge wave of “sure-thing”-itis, based upon nothing but his reputation as a good governor, and drove Palin to the sidelines. He zoomed way up the polls, based upon nothing but other people saying he was good.

But to then come out and look like a total meathead in debate after debate, and combine with almost a cartoon drawl… the comparisons to Bush were inevitable.

Perry drove himself out of the race when he showed up to the debates unable to field grounders and stumbling all over his own feet trying to run the bases.

That was his first impression, and once he made it, it was too late.

Lesson for future first-time national candidates such as Perry: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and don’t declare until you’re ready to play.

And I don’t particularly dislike Rick Perry, or being an attack-bot; I’m just calling it as I’m seeing it.

cane_loader on January 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Did anyone notice that Santorum hardly ever looked at Romney when he tried to school him in the debate? Being unable to man-up and look someone in the eye is a real negative indicator. Not trust worthy? Back stabber? Unwilling to support your narrative when pushed against a wall?

You should be able to look at someone and hold eye contact whether heaping praise or criticism.

Carnac on January 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

I thought he was the best last night. As a liberal I wouldnt mind a president Santorum.
Don’t agree with him at all. But at least the man is sincere. Paul was a dissapointment. Ginrich I hope will win the nomination and Obama gets 4 more years. In a perfect world it woul be a contest between Obama and santorum. Real contrast between the two.

Isserley on January 20, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Prediction:
Come late Tuesday night, everyone here will be espousing “Mitch Daniels for President!”

Carnac on January 20, 2012 at 11:21 AM

If Santorum could get through one debate without trashing the tenth amendment, his polls would probably rocket in the southern states.

TXGOP on January 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Did anyone notice that Santorum hardly ever looked at Romney when he tried to school him in the debate? Being unable to man-up and look someone in the eye is a real negative indicator. Not trust worthy? Back stabber? Unwilling to support your narrative when pushed against a wall?

You should be able to look at someone and hold eye contact whether heaping praise or criticism.

Carnac on January 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Yes, I felt uncomfortable with the way Rick avoided eye contact with those he was attacking. Very telling.

IndeCon on January 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

As for Perry’s “heartless” comment:

Yes, it did generate an outsized, emotional backlash against him.

Why?

Something along the lines of:
For years and years, every criticism of the tolerance of illegal immigration and widespread lawbreaking has been met with accusations of heartlessness.

From Prop. 187 in California, overthrown by judicial fiat, to ridiculing those who use the correct term, “illegal alien,” to using court decisions requiring that we educate the children of border-crashers to require more and more and more assistance out of the public treasury – all while patronizing opponents of unchecked illegal immgration as “subconsciously racist – people who see the growing impact of an illegal subculture of brown semi-slaves as a cancer on the nation have been demonized.

Perry’s calling people with honest objections to wholesale law breaking “heartless” was an insult right out of the lefty race-baiting playbook. There was nothing conservative about it.

For myself, and I suspect for many, many others, I took immediate personal insult from Perry’s attempt to impugn my motives.

When a politician delivers a personal, rather than political insult directly to those who should be his base, the results are rarely good.

Had Perry not made it personal with people like me, by evoking all my years of resentment at being called a racist, the response would not have been so outsized.

And yes, maybe my reaction, and that of many others, was emotional. But I’m sick of being called a racist for pointing out the destruction that illegal immgration is wreaking upon my town, state, and nation, and Perry hit it right in the sweet spot.

Honestly, his campaign was over as soon as that sentence cam out of his mouth.

cane_loader on January 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

His first lines of attack on Gingrich last night pretty much sealed the deal for me. I used to see him as acceptable. It is too bad that Santorum got moved to the senate before Newt went on trial for all those ethics violations that he was exonerated of. I would love to have soundbites or even print media listening to how Santorum behaved at a time when our own party was eating its own. Anyone got any links to those kinds of things? He may have been vocal even from the Senate.

astonerii on January 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Santorum: I can sit in another room and listen to him and he sounds great most of the time. Watching him on TV is wretched. He sneers more than Obama does. Doesn’t he have any handlers that can train him to not look like he is constipated and sucking on a lemon at the same time? Appearance matters, whether it’s fair or not.

Old Texas Chic on January 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Yes, I felt uncomfortable with the way Rick avoided eye contact with those he was attacking. Very telling.

IndeCon on January 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

And I had an entirely different take on it. First, he seemed to force himself to make eye contact at the beginning, but then turned to the camera. Because he’s not talking to Romney. Romney knows. He’s telling the audience. I don’t recall any of them not looking into the camera when responding. Secondly, I got the impression that he really didn’t like having to bring these things up, especially with Newt. They’ve known each other for a long time, and I think it was awkward for him, because it was awkward for his opponents, who he doesn’t despise. Not that he isn’t man enough, because he obviously did, but because he is a kind person who doesn’t particularly relish going for the jugular, even though he did what had to be done. I liked it. We all see things differently.

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM

The worst of his night came on his answers on his tax returns, which is particularly worrisome because he had the same exact problem in the last debate and obviously didn’t do anything to address his approach. Arguing that it’s legitimate to ask for tax returns but that he doesn’t want to make them public is a very curious hill on which to die, politically speaking, and his “maybe” to King’s question as to whether he’d follow his father’s precedent both looked and sounded bad.

I swear I’m living on a different planet than most people. Romney was asked this question three times, not including Newt’s self-serving boilerplate. The first two times Romney answered succinctly and honestly: I will release my taxes when they are finished, in April, along with a number of prior years. He also pointed out, correctly in my view, that releasing tax returns in dribs and drabs for the Obama administration to comb through is bad strategy.

Romney did fumble King’s third attempt to push this issue, when King brought up Romney’s father. He should have anticipated the question and done better. But for God’s sake, the “maybe” was Romney’s response as to whether he would release 12 years of tax returns, not whether he would release them at all.

This is so stupid. I’m not the biggest Santorum fan, but he was exactly right: “This is not that big of an issue.”

Mr. Arkadin on January 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM

We have candidates who suck. Santorum is a government in your life the right way conservative. Newt is erratic. Romney is just a plain liar. Ron Paul is not going to be the nominee. So all the smart folks – suck it up.

Anybody missing Perry now? The supposedly dumb guy.

PS: I am going to ask that question right until we lose to Obama.

Thank you.

antisocial on January 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Ed, your attempts to prop up Santorum haven’t gone unnoticed from this commenter here.

It’s like trying to sell off sea water as spring water.

It won’t work.

I sure hope Santorum is preparing to drop out and endorse ? after SC. Couldn’t have happened to a better man.

TheRightMan on January 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The reason Santorum can’t get any traction? Look at the picture accompanying this article. He looks like a petulant child who has just been told “No” by his mommy.

I’ll give this to Ron Paul – he was right when he said little Ricky was too sensitive.

captn2fat on January 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Anybody missing Perry now? The supposedly dumb guy.

nope

gerrym51 on January 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Anybody missing Perry now? The supposedly dumb guy.

PS: I am going to ask that question right until we lose to Obama.

Thank you.

antisocial on January 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

I guess four more years of Obama is needed to cure the GOP electorate of the “American Idol” mentality.

Only that will convert them from an “I couldn’t care less about politics” electorate to an “We need a proven reformer” electorate.

Until then – more pain, please.

TheRightMan on January 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Had Perry not made it personal with people like me, by evoking all my years of resentment at being called a racist, the response would not have been so outsized.

And yes, maybe my reaction, and that of many others, was emotional. But I’m sick of being called a racist for pointing out the destruction that illegal immgration is wreaking upon my town, state, and nation, and Perry hit it right in the sweet spot.

Honestly, his campaign was over as soon as that sentence cam out of his mouth.

cane_loader on January 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Hope you enjoy the next four years of Obama.

It is just what the doctor ordered to cure your pain at being called “heartless”.

Obama will call you a racist and bigot to boot – and you know what?

You will have no choice but to swallow your pain.

TheRightMan on January 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM

And I had an entirely different take on it. First, he seemed to force himself to make eye contact at the beginning, but then turned to the camera. Because he’s not talking to Romney. Romney knows. He’s telling the audience. I don’t recall any of them not looking into the camera when responding. Secondly, I got the impression that he really didn’t like having to bring these things up, especially with Newt. They’ve known each other for a long time, and I think it was awkward for him, because it was awkward for his opponents, who he doesn’t despise. Not that he isn’t man enough, because he obviously did, but because he is a kind person who doesn’t particularly relish going for the jugular, even though he did what had to be done. I liked it. We all see things differently.

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM

This was my read on Santorum as well. Thanks for articulating it so well.

Just Sayin on January 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Anybody missing Perry now? The supposedly dumb guy.

PS: I am going to ask that question right until we lose to Obama.

Thank you.

antisocial on January 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Many of us are. :-(

Just Sayin on January 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM

In Frothy Mixtures defense he doesn’t have a lot of free time to focus on this historically losing “campaign” What with imposing his chrstian fascist American taliban view of the world on people, stoning pregnant women at abortion providers, getting “them thar homo-sex-uals” becasue badly written poetry books “says” so(which is contrary to everything that toilet paper dispenser the bible allegedly stands for) even though it obvious that Santorum engages in the love that dare not speak its name, who can focus on something as silly as running for office?

Your Mamma loves me on January 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM

gerrym51 on January 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

You will. Just wait.

antisocial on January 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM

I find it funny that Perry haters, now awaking to the reality of a GOP field reduced to a bunch of clowns that will lose handily to Obama, are desperately trying to justify their rejection of the only candidate that had the record to beat Obama.

“It was Perry’s fault”, they cry. “He called us ‘heartless’… he was not prepared… ‘Gardasil’… ‘Texas Dream Act’…”

They forget one teeny fact.

Voters only have their stupid selves to blame if they opt for inferior candidates when given a choice between inferior and superior candidates.

Perry had nothing to prove. His record as governor and his overall conservative record did that for him.

If that couldn’t convince you, then your opting for snake oil salesmen can only be blamed on yourselves when those are exposed as nothing but inferior hacks.

TheRightMan on January 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Hope you enjoy the next four years of Obama.

It is just what the doctor ordered to cure your pain at being called “heartless”.

Obama will call you a racist and bigot to boot – and you know what?

You will have no choice but to swallow your pain.

TheRightMan on January 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM

I dunno about you, but I will be enjoying the next 4 years regardless of the outcome. It is the American way of life. Every 4 years we vote to change the direction of our nation, and every 4 years we are pretty much guaranteed that the direction of the change we wanted never happens. The times when this was not the case was Reagan changed the direction the way the American people were delighted with and wanted and expected in voting for him. The other time was when they voted into power the house of 1995-1997 with the Contract with America being the direction they wanted and Newt Gingrich being a faithful servant of the people actually made happen (not all of it, but much of it). he did so against the will of the Republicans in congress who thought that they deserved the right to rule over the American people rather than serve those people’s interest. Now the Republicans have a choice, to either vote for the man who will change the direction of America for the better (NEWT) or the man who will tell them what they want to hear but not make any real changes. Either way, we make the choice and live with the consequences. Even though it is most likely you all will go against Newt, being a conservative and understanding consequences, I will happily endure and work hard next time to do what I am doing this time, get a movement conservative into office to change the direction of America the way Reagan and Newt did.

astonerii on January 20, 2012 at 12:23 PM

And I had an entirely different take on it. First, he seemed to force himself to make eye contact at the beginning, but then turned to the camera. Because he’s not talking to Romney. Romney knows. He’s telling the audience. I don’t recall any of them not looking into the camera when responding. Secondly, I got the impression that he really didn’t like having to bring these things up, especially with Newt. They’ve known each other for a long time, and I think it was awkward for him, because it was awkward for his opponents, who he doesn’t despise. Not that he isn’t man enough, because he obviously did, but because he is a kind person who doesn’t particularly relish going for the jugular, even though he did what had to be done. I liked it. We all see things differently.

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM

This was my read on Santorum as well. Thanks for articulating it so well.

Just Sayin on January 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Ditto that. Santorum has said several times that he loves Newt but that Newt is highly undisciplined which is not good for the office of President. I hear where he’s coming from, but Newt has the quality we need most now–he can get in the gutter and fight damn it!!

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Just Sayin on January 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Thank you.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 12:28 PM

I know what you are saying, too, but I’m not convinced a sharp wit will be enough to win for Newt against Obama and the media blitz that will come his way. Of course, I’m not sure anyone will be able to withstand that…. Still, I think Santorum will fight just as hard, if not quite in the same snarky grandiose way, which I think many find off putting and pompous. I think Santorum would find arguing against Obama much less awkward. I doubt he respects Obama the way he does Newt or any of the other Republican candidates, for one thing. I also think he truly believes what he is fighting for. Gingrich probably does, but I always feel it is just as much ego and desire for power from Newt as any real conviction. The man is an egomaniac. Don’t get me wrong. There are many things I like about him, and I will gladly vote for him against Obama. I just like Santorum much better and think he would truly be the better president.

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

I’m not a Perry “hater,” and get tired of being pigeonholed.
I was giving an attempt at honest analysis of why Perry was rejected. In doing so, I was using my own psychological reaction as a case in point.

You know, if so many people took the same gut offense that I did, maybe it was something wrong with what Perry said, instead of something wrong with me and the millions of others who also took offense.. Attacking me personally does not change what happened.

Perry made his big debut, tripped and fell, and his opportunity for a good first impression went for naught.

That’s the facts. I’m just pointing them out.

cane_loader on January 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

I think you’ll agree with me that Santorum probably won’t get the nomination. He needs to hone and work on delivery of his message, but I, too, think he has good conservative creds to build upon. Tell me, who do you think he’ll endorse if he gets out. I can’t imagine him backing Romney simply because he stated one of the reasons he got in the race was Obamacare and as we all know, Romneycare is its daddy. I’m thinking he respects Newt more than Romney and would probably endorse Newt even though he has doubts about him. What are your thoughts?

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Well, it pains me to admit that I have serious doubts he can win the nomination, much less the Presidency, but one need only go off a relatively conservative site like HA and see the state of our culture, so…Heck, even on a relatively conservative site like HA there seem to be as many what I consider greedy libertine ‘conservatives’ (fiscal cons/social libs) as there are full spectrum traditional ones, so, yes. I agree with you that he probably won’t get the nomination. Ugh…

I also agree about the endorsement. I think he would endorse Newt, and hope that would be the case. I’d be very disappointed if he went with Romney. Still, I’m not willing to throw in the towel just yet. He has a very good message, if he can get people to actually listen, and I really hope I’m not right about our culture being past the point of rescue. As a Catholic, I believe in miracles. ;)

Santorum 2012!

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I also think he truly believes what he is fighting for. Gingrich probably does, but I always feel it is just as much ego and desire for power from Newt as any real conviction. The man is an egomaniac. Don’t get me wrong. There are many things I like about him, and I will gladly vote for him against Obama. I just like Santorum much better and think he would truly be the better president.

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Very well said! We need to get rid of the American Idol/sensationalism mentality and listen to the candidate and look at his character.

Yes, I know we are in the TV age of elections, etc., etc., but we are in serious trouble and we need someone who’s in it out of conviction and not because it’s “his turn” (Mitt) or because of an outsize ego (Newt).

Who knows what these two might be capable of–or choose to ignore or pander to–when push comes to shove.

Humility is greatly underestimated as a character quality…

Snowbird on January 20, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Before these debates, I had a good opinion of Santorum because I liked many of his positions. But I have grown to despise him. Yes, the candidates have attacked each other at times but he is obsessed with attacking the other people on the stage. I kept track last night: every single time he spoke, he attacked the others. Every single time. Newt and Romney have both said multiple times that anybody on the stage would be infinitely better than Ozero – not Santorum. The enemy is Obama and the libs, Rick! Not your fellow Repulicans. I hope he goes soon.

Samantha on January 20, 2012 at 2:02 PM

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM

You mentioned your Catholic. So am I. What I can’t understand is why 54% of all Catholics voted for Obama in 2008 with his pro-abortion stance, and that now Romney is currently leading with the Catholic vote. I really think that Santorum – even though he is Catholic – is too conservative for many Catholics! It is just incredible.

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Yes it’s too late! Rassmussen and PPP have voted all ready and you are stuck with Newt!

Fleuries on January 20, 2012 at 4:20 PM

KickandSwimMom on January 20, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Lest I go off on a raging rant, I’ll just say I know how you feel. I believe that only about half of those who profess to be Catholic actually practice their faith, if that many.

Oh, and somewhat related, did you see this?

Most everything this man has done has been spitting in the face of any remotely honest, if completely stupid, Catholic who voted for him. If I had been such a fool, I would have been on my knees in the confessional after the first thing he did was repealing the Mexico City Policy.

And that great paragon of Catholic virtue, Kathleen Sebelius cheering and claiming it is a good balance with religious liberty…arghh

I want to see some EXCOMMUNICATION!!!!!!!

/OT mini rant

pannw on January 20, 2012 at 6:26 PM

“You mentioned your Catholic. So am I. What I can’t understand is why 54% of all Catholics voted for Obama in 2008 with his pro-abortion stance, and that now Romney is currently leading with the Catholic vote. I really think that Santorum – even though he is Catholic – is too conservative for many Catholics! It is just incredible.”

I believe Bill Buckley spread the story of the observer of the endless Catholic/Protestant disputes in No. Ireland by asking: “Aren’t there any atheists.” Answer: Yes, there are Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists

Ronald Wallenfang on January 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM

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