Santorum Super PAC releases ad to tout his "true conservative" credentials

As the Iowa caucuses approach, even undercards like Rick Santorum are pulling out all the stops. The former Pennsylvania senator has never had much money to his campaign — but the Red White and Blue Fund, a pro-Santorum Super PAC, just anted up $200,000 to release this ad, which will run in Iowa next week.

As Politico’s Emily Schultheis writes, “For a candidate without the campaign war chest to run ads like these, it could be a boost.”

The Santorum phenomenon is a perplexing one. For, as the ad suggests, Santorum has betrayed conservatism on far fewer occasions than either of the two current frontrunners. Yes, he’s on record as a past supporter of No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D — but both were Republican-led policies, albeit ill-advised ones. Yes, he endorsed Arlen Specter — but on the basis of Specter’s ability to ensure Senate confirmation of pro-life judicial nominees. Quin Hillyer puts it best at The Spectacle Blog in a piece contrasting Santorum’s sketchy endorsement of Specter with Newt Gingrich’s sketchy endorsement of Dede Scozzafava:

For Santorum, in other words, the “bad” endorsement was the proverbial exception that proves the rule (the rule being that he is a reliable and effective conservative), whereas for Gingrich the “bad” endorsement was part of a long-running pattern of objectionable behavior, making the objectionable behavior the rule for Gingrich, not the exception.

Furthermore, for all that Santorum did have a “conservative” reason to endorse Specter, he has since expressed regret for offering his support to the soon-to-cut-and-run Republican.

No matter: Santorum’s conservative credibility has never scored enough points with voters — even voters clamoring for a “full spectrum conservative” — to earn an impressive standing in the polls. Why? The objections are predictable: He appears angry, he’s too focused on social issues and — most importantly — he lost his Senate seat by a whopping 20 points to a fellow who won ostensibly for no other reason than that he had the same last name as his dad.

Yet, Santorum remains optimistic about his chances — and, I have to admit, a surprisingly stellar finish in Iowa from Santorum would sit far better with me than, say, a win from Ron Paul and probably Newt Gingrich, too.