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Romney's Offensive Against Santorum Will Be Weak But Well-Funded

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Over at Buzzfeed, Ben Smith gets a Mitt Romney adviser to detail the coming two-pronged attack that the Romney campaign and its affiliated super PAC -- who haven't coordinated with each other, no siree, you can totally trust them! -- plan to launch on Rick Santorum. Color me unimpressed:

The first is a comparison to Barack Obama: "He's never run anything," said the advisor. The Pennyslvanian's experience is limited to roles as a legislator and legislative staffer. "The biggest thing he ever ran is his Senate office," he said.

The second is a challenge to Santorum's Washington experience.

"They're going to hit him very hard on earmarks, lobbying, voting to raise the federal debt limit five times," said the advisor. "The story of Santorum is going to be told over the next few weeks in a big way."

Come on, now. This is about as generic as it gets. Yes, Santorum is best known as a senator. Yes, Romney is best known as the governor of Massachusetts and the head of Bain Capital...and, oh yeah, he ran the Winter Olympics. But Romney's been making the case for his managerial acumen since he got into the race. I'm not sure how Santorum is caught off guard by this. (Besides, doesn't Santorum have a better "compare X to Obama" argument to make on Romneycare?)

As for the rest of it, earmarks are consistently overrated as an election year issue. Santorum has already responded to this charge, noting that several of the earmarks he supported "were necessary for defense and health," and that he's criticized the abuse of the earmark process. Beyond that, Romney has also -- wait for it! -- supported earmarks:

Under his leadership, Massachusetts sought tens of millions of dollars in earmarks for transportation projects through the state's congressional delegation.

A prime example was the $30 million that the Romney administration requested to renovate the historic Longfellow Bridge that spans the Charles River between Cambridge and Boston. The landmark is seen in many movies and television shows.

Romney's transportation secretary, Daniel A. Grabauskas, asked the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to include the money in a transportation spending bill. That bill was full of thousands of earmarks that sparked public furor and became a symbol for Washington's out-of-control spending when Congress passed it in 2005.

It's also going to be a little bit comedic watching Romney criticize Santorum for lobbying, considering the fact that the Romney campaign is lousy with lobbyists. And as for the debt ceiling, I assure you, as president, Romney is going to want to raise the debt ceiling, again and again. As will Santorum. It's only very recently that the insane position that defaulting on our sovereign credit and sending the global economy into a death spiral became a popular point of view. Should Romney or Santorum become president, you'll never again hear of it. Like Jim Newell once said of Michele Bachmann, I will "100% guarantee" you that if Romney or Santorum become president, they will sign one or more bills that raise the debt ceiling.

Of course, the no-brainer way of attacking Santorum is to go after him on his extreme social positions. Unfortunately, now that Romney has decided to be a hardline conservative, that option is not open to him. So if all things were equal, it's hard to imagine Santorum not fending off this weak sauce offensive.

Unfortunately, all things won't be equal. While Romney's "Get Santorum" message itself is as spicy as vanilla ice cream, the money that Romney is prepared to invest in this all-out-attack is going to buy plenty of scoops. The Romney super PAC has already dropped $500,000 in to Michigan to begin mounting attack ads (though the first round attacked Gingrich, not Santorum). Santorum may struggle with this attack, but his struggle won't be on the merits -- it will be because Romney drowns out his counter-argument. (Though there is some concern that Romney's patented technique of launching negative ad blitzes may backfire -- especially if voters come to believe that this is Romney's only play when the going gets tough for him.)

READ THE WHOLE THING:
Here's Romney's Plan To Take Out Santorum [Buzzfeed]

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More on Romney's 2012 campaign:

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