iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Paul Ruth

GET UPDATES FROM Paul Ruth
 

Why Rick Santorum Is a Threat to Romney and Obama

Posted: 01/06/2012 4:48 pm

With his calm and quiet demeanor, Rick Santorum has taken the nomination race by storm, becoming the most exciting candidate the Republicans have. Exciting and Santorum may not be the noun/adjective pair most would go for, but he provides what the GOP needs if they are going to have a chance in beating President Obama. With the thin line second place finish in Iowa, there emerges a candidate that has a chance to realign the party in victory.

Two aspects about Santorum that are appealing to middle American Republicans in every way are that he is not the president, and he is not the Tea Party. Most importantly, he does not act in the boisterous grandstanding ways that have dominated political races of the recent past. Santorum speaks calmly yet passionately, giving a sense of being the voice of reason. The national appeal is a real reflection on Reagan era politics where restoring American Exceptionalism is a top priority, and economic prosperity comes from an efficient government and budget cuts.

Many sensible conservative voters now have a real option to depart from high flung and at times extremist rhetoric from the far right. Santorum promotes himself as a family man that has not waivered on social issues, on which he uses his faith as a source of comfort rather than justification. Not to mention he is part of the 22% of Americans that are Catholic. On a national race for the presidency, his religious affiliation and social conservatism on abortion can act as an unintended organized campaign support through the numerous Catholic Dioceses. This could easily cut into the suburban moderates fearful of the far right, but not wholly confident with the president.

It is not to say that Santorum does not have a mountain to climb in terms of raising money and generating real exposure that gets him to answer the tougher questions. Rick needs these questions so that he can live within a more defined image for the American public. If anything, what happened in Iowa wasn't a win, or a simple catapult to fame -- it was voters wanting to see more. As he answers this demand for more, he must not let the grabbing of the nomination get in the way of being electable. It seems like a backward concept, but John McCain was slowed by his own party preventing him from getting a sooner start on Democrats that were still in a vicious battle.

Santorum has shown independence from the pack, and if he keeps it going he might lead an upset in terms of votes per money spent. Americans have been wanting things to change almost since the 21st century began. There have been new faces and complete overhaul in Congress, but the frustration is still present. What every candidate is going to have to answer is: what are they going to do to end the gridlock? Rick Santorum may be a real alternative to the new political normal where the greatest inefficiency is the inability to pass any satisfying legislation on the most pressing issues. The style of his campaigning is promising because it provides exactly what American politics is missing -- calm.

 
FOLLOW POLITICS