In accounting for the GOP’s loss, Santorum emphasized Romney’s inherent limitations as the GOP standard-bearer. “He ran the campaign he could,” Santorum tells National Review Online. That was a campaign focused primarily on the economy, rather than on the three major issues that fueled the tea-party movement in the wake of President Obama’s election and drove voters to the polls in 2010: Wall Street bailouts, Obamacare, and cap and trade. As the founder of Bain Capital, and having instituted a universal health-care program and proposed joining a carbon-fee regime as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was poorly positioned to capitalize. …

Santorum’s dissatisfaction extends beyond the general election to the primary process from which Romney emerged victorious. “What I found out in the Republican primary is that the donor class of Republicans are different from the donor class of Democrats,” he said, in that Republican moneymen are more reluctant to put money behind dark-horse candidates. (Though casino mogul Sheldon Adelson did spend $16.5 million backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich before donating millions to the Romney campaign.) Santorum said that Republican donors “want a return on their investment,” but that “most people who are giving that money don’t know the first thing about what it takes to win.” Santorum lamented that they take their cues from political pundits who are similarly ignorant and “live in big blue counties,” to boot.