Santorum: Maybe America’s better off with Obama than taking a risk on an “Etch-a-Sketch” candidate

posted at 5:50 pm on March 22, 2012 by Allahpundit

Faced with the reality that his chances have collapsed, the Sweater Vest begins to unravel:

“You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future,” Santorum told a crowd at USAA.

During a press avail following the event, Santorum, who carried the Etch A Sketch during his speech, argued that Romney knows he can’t win in the general election.

“All the things that allow Romney to win the primary are unavailable to him to win the general and that’s why you see these Etch A Sketch comments because he knows he can’t win,” said Santorum.

Romney issued a statement later saying he’s “disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican.” Question for Team RS: What “risk” is there, exactly, that President Etch-a-Sketch would be worse than Obama? Even if his political instincts carry him towards the center, he knows he can’t stray too far from the base on big-ticket items like, oh, say, Supreme Court appointments. That’s a big difference, not a little difference, and a pro-life advocate as passionate as Santorum surely knows it. I’m no Romney fan, yet the only argument I can come up with in which The One is possibly maybe supposedly conceivably theoretically preferable to Romney is some sort of “only Nixon can go to China” reasoning. Only a Republican like Nixon could make nice with Mao because a Democrat would have been accused by the right of harboring secret communist sympathies. Nixon’s party ID immunized him from that; by the same token, you could argue that if an attack on Iran is inevitable it’s better that Obama gives the order than Romney because the anti-war left will roll over like puppies for him (again). You could, if you’re really daring, even argue that only a Democratic president can sign entitlement reform because partisan loyalty will help defang some of its many, many, many, many liberal opponents. I don’t buy the latter argument, though — I think it’s one of the few policy areas in which the left will be ferocious even in opposing a Democratic president, if not quite as ferocious as they’d be towards a Republican. (That’s one reason Obama hasn’t been aggressive about it despite his campaign promises about entitlements.) And as for Iran, are you willing to purchase relative liberal silence on an attack at the high price of trillions more in debt and a few new stridently liberal SCOTUS justices? I’ll pass.

I’m actually amazed he’s making this argument given the hard feelings it’ll engender among Republicans who’ll soon be rallying around Romney in an “anybody but Obama” fervor. Santorum’s sunk this time but he’s raised his profile significantly for 2016. Time to start thinking ahead strategically instead of letting bitterness run away with that yapper of his. Exit quotation from Byron York: “Asked what other plans Santorum had to call attention to the [Etch-a-Sketch] matter, [Santorum spokesman Alice] Stewart said, ‘Lots.’”


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