Santorum will argue this week and beyond that the GOP needs a coastal insurgent conservative, someone like him who has battled the Big Blue machine many, many times and except for the 2006 wipeout which came in the worst of national conditions, he always won. Scars, yes, but no glass jaw, and a great ability with words.

Romney will reply that what we need is to win, and that he can, did in Iowa, and will do so again in Florida and many times down the road and especially in November. Electability is his current strongest suit, but he is a very able speaker and debater as well which will serve him well if he is the nominee, as will his vast executive experience as the sprawling, endlessly changing and challenging business of taking on Team Obama unfolds.

What we are in for, in other words, could be a replay of 1976’s GOP contest between conservative midwesterner Gerald Ford and conservative Californian Ronald Reagan, an epic campaign, one that was good for both me.

I make this argument in my conversation with Kristol and time will tell if the analogy holds. My major point is that both men, as all fair minded parties now admit, were very good men and very solid conservatives. There was nothing “moderate” about Gerry Ford except his wonderful demeanor.