Green Room

Duggar Family Brings a Busload of Momentum to Santorum in Iowa

posted at 5:49 pm on January 2, 2012 by

JOHNSTON, Iowa
Late last night I stepped outside my hotel here to have a smoke and saw a big bus pull up in front of the hotel next door, where the Rick Santorum campaign is staying. This aroused my curiosity, but not enough to make me walk 200 yards through the cold windy Iowa night to investigate. And then today, I drove 40 miles up the road to Boone, where Santorum was having an event at a Pizza Ranch restaurant, and saw the bus at close range:

For months, Santorum has been the only Republican presidential candidate whose campaign didn’t have a big custom bus – and he still doesn’t, because this bus actually belongs to the famous Duggar family of Arkansas, who arrived in the Hawkeye State this week to join their favorite candidate’s final push in the Iowa caucuses. I interviewed John Duggar, one of the family’s 20 children, at the event in Boone:

A statement released by the Santorum campaign quotes the family’s super-mom Michelle Duggar:

“This year’s Presidential race outcome will set the course of America for the next several years! Rick Santorum is a pro-life, Christian conservative with the family values and common sense business perspective that we need to get our nation back on track, to create jobs and to stand for what is right! Rick has a proven track record as a leader in the US Senate he fought to end partial birth abortion, he has stood for defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Rick believes in lower taxes and less government control in our lives. He also will fight for drilling our own oil out of Alaska, which will lower fuel prices, create jobs and put thousands of dollars back in families pocketbooks. Rick is the man for the job, and the entire Duggar family asks those who are looking for a conservative candidate to support to join them in voting for Rick Santorum for President. He will be a voice for senior citizens, the working families and the unborn.”

The event in Boone was jam-packed, and not just with the numerous Duggars. The national media, who spent most of 2011 ignoring Rick Santorum, have turned out in droves to cover his suddenly surging campaign. It was impossible for me to get near the candidate inside the restaurant, where he was surrounded by reporters, photographers and TV cameramen. However, I did talk to two members of Santorum’s South Carolina campaign operation, who are here to lend a hand in the final Iowa push. One of them told me, “I’m laughing at all the media that keeps saying Rick doesn’t have any organization in South Carolina. He’s campaigned in South Carolina more than any other candidate has. … All we needed was a spark, and it looks like we got one.”

The plan for the Santorum campaign, if the surge comes through tomorrow with a strong result, is for their 24-year-old Iowa field director Jake Braunger to leap-frog ahead to help the South Carolina operation. Meanwhile, those who have discounted Santorum’s strength in New Hampshire may be in for a rude shock. In fact, as I pointed out yesterday, Santorum’s national campaign director Mike Biundo is a veteran GOP operative in the Granite State with strong Tea Party connections.

Many have apparently underestimated Santorum’s campaign all year, and now some are even claiming that “A vote for Rick Santorum is a vote for Mitt Romney.” Such arguments evidently assume that some other candidate in the GOP field is better prepared to be the strongest pick for the conservative “Anybody But Romney” movement. Yet as I pointed out today in The American Spectator, what happens in Iowa tomorrow night could destroy all such claims:

If the numbers in the final Des Moines Register poll are accurate, however, Santorum’s closing surge may be strong enough to vault him into second place, ahead of Paul — a result which would turn the “electability” argument on its head. How can Gingrich and Perry’s advocates claim that they are credible alternatives to Romney, if they can’t even beat a low-budget underdog campaign like Santorum’s? And what does it say for the vaunted superiority of those other campaigns that they failed to realize Santorum was moving ahead here until it was too late for them to respond effectively?

Pundits who imagine they can predict the future based on polls and media reports are often embarrassed by the actual results when ordinary voters have their say. It is probably impossible to predict what the outcome will be here Tuesday night, and even more difficult to guess what will happen as the campaign moves forward to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and beyond. But those who have preemptively declared that Rick Santorum can’t win the GOP nomination may soon need to re-calculate their assessments.

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How appropriate that the ads displaying below the article are all for maternity wear.

MelonCollie on January 2, 2012 at 6:02 PM

That woman’s uterus is from Krypton.

Kakalak Pundit on January 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

That family is a sideshow. There is no way he can properly take care of all those kids with out government assistance.

rndmusrnm on January 2, 2012 at 8:05 PM

There is no way he can properly take care of all those kids with out government assistance.

And yet he somehow manages. Fancy that.

io on January 2, 2012 at 9:22 PM

Rick Santorum signs all over the roads along the coast here in South Carolina.

SouthernGent on January 2, 2012 at 10:04 PM

That family is a sideshow.

rndmusrnm on January 2, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Sideshow? They’re a three-ring circus all by themselves.

Come one, come all, and see the perpetually pregnant woman…

MelonCollie on January 2, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Much like Donald Trump, I’m tired of these attention whores.

joekenha on January 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM

There is no way he can properly take care of all those kids with out government assistance.

Sideshow? They’re a three-ring circus all by themselves.

Come one, come all, and see the perpetually pregnant woman…

As a family of 9, we often hear similar comments. It’s a lifestyle choice. We don’t take your tax dollars, we don’t ask you for special favors, and we work hard for what we have.

I don’t buy as many man toys or gadgets as I’d like, but it’s pretty awesome to come home after a hard day of work to my “fan club”!

FantomBeats on January 3, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Sideshow? They’re a three-ring circus all by themselves.

Come one, come all, and see the perpetually pregnant woman…

MelonCollie on January 2, 2012 at 11:34 PM

You hypocrites are all for choice unless a women chooses to have a lot of children. I can smell the misogyny from a mile away.

BakerAllie on January 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

You hypocrites are all for choice unless a women chooses to have a lot of children.

Define ‘a lot of children’, you slobbering fundie. 2? 5? 10?

I can smell the misogyny from a mile away.

BakerAllie on January 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

What you’re smelling is your brain rotting.

MelonCollie on January 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Define ‘a lot of children’, you slobbering fundie. 2? 5? 10?

MelonCollie on January 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Eh, however many it takes to outbreed your ilk, which given pro-abortionists penchant for murdering their children apparently isn’t very many at all.

Our old trolls were more fun.

BakerAllie on January 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM