Call for Mr. Santorum
Wow. You know the Iowa Caucus is going to be competitive for Republicans in 2012, when former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is already getting robo-called there for not being sufficiently pro-life. I've previously mentioned that I enjoy cataloguing all of the attention that the national media pays to various politicians who have no chance of being their party’s presidential nominee. It is a way for them to generate ongoing interest in their horse race coverage, even though there aren’t many thoroughbreds currently running on the track. Santorum seems to be emerging as one of these early storylines, given his newfound interest in frequent trips to Iowa and South Carolina.
Lest you think I am being flip or dismissive here, while I stand by my earlier statement that Santorum has no chance of being the Republican nominee in 2012, that doesn’t mean he can’t complicate matters for other more viable candidates trying to gain momentum coming out of the early Republican contests. With Iowa shaping up to be a social conservative battle royale, Santorum could certainly have an impact on the discourse in that political micro-climate.
We’ve seen it before in past election cycles, where candidates (with no chance of winning) like Gary Bauer on the right and Al Sharpton on the left were able to have an outsized short-term impact on the political discourse, and thus on the behavior of the other candidates in the race. So, while I can’t help but tweak the media for referring to Santorum as a presidential contender, I am aware that his candidacy could affect the dynamics of those early contests, especially at the grassroots.
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