Political Gum Hockey

Political Commentary and Humor

Santorum Officially Enters Presidential Race – Upstaged by Weiner

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum officially began his candidacy for Vice President of the United States on Monday.  And no one seemed to notice.   It seems Santorum just can’t catch a break – first his name was given some rather campaign-unfriendly connotations, and then on the day he makes his announcement the press seems more interested in New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s…um…tweeting habits.

It is the policy of PGH not to splash in the gutter so I apologize for the references in the first paragraph.  With that unpleasantness behind us let’s move on to the substantive issue of the day – Santorum’s presidential ambitions.

Not that Santorum’s presidential ambitions are all that substantive.  Santorum kicked off his candidacy with a great deal of no fanfare in his home state of Pennsylvania, from which he served two terms as Congressman and two terms as Senator before being soundly defeated in 2006.   While  always a social conservative, it was in the 2006 election that he first entered the realm of bigotry.  That may sound a little harsh, but there is no real way around the attitude that he began espousing at that time and apparently continues today.  In short, he hates fascists.  Especially “Islamic fascists.”  And worries about Sharia law somehow overtaking US law.  He likes to think of himself as Churchill reborn, warning us of the impending Muslim invasion.  A bit hyperbolic for normal Americans, but the tea party loves it.

A quick run down of his beliefs puts him in the range of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and other tea party folks, though he cuts a stunning corporate image in his well-tailored suit so lacks the wild-eyed crazy look that others seem to have.  He actively courts the tea party and has a cute little big patriotic photo of the liberty bell on his official campaign web site.  He is adamantly anti-gay rights, pro-gun rights, believes creationism (and its new name, intelligent design) should be taught in schools as science, denies climate change, wants to restrict a woman’s right to abortion, and like everyone else it seems these days, claims to be a fiscal conservative.   With his long-time marriage and seven kids, he definitely fits the conservative tea party mold.  Including some convenient hypocrisy regarding his Pennsylvania residency.

So what are his chances of becoming president?  In a word – None.

Okay, better than none.  But not much better.  His name recognition is not up there in first tier candidate list, though he is fairly well known in some circles (e.g., Fox News watchers).  The problem is that he just doesn’t seem to excite anyone except the far right wing social conservatives, science deniers, and xenophobes.  For someone who is known as an “in your face” kind of confrontational guy, he doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact on mainstream voters.  That could change of course, but PGH would expect him to be more of a VP afterthought than a likely presidential nominee.   Basically he fits to the radical right of someone like Tim Pawlenty, who also seems not to instill much passion in the Republican voters.   Still, there are those who say there might be a path for Santorum to get picked for the VP running mate of Mitt Romney – with Romney appealing more to moderates and the hopes that Santorum might bring in social conservatives.  PGH thinks this is unlikely, as it is those social conservatives that are now working so hard to topple Romney’s chances at the nomination, so Santorum is likely to be burning bridges with Romney before they even get built.  And the fact that he is just a slightly more Washington DC/corporate version of right wing extremism isn’t likely to be palatable to Independents, moderates, and, well, most Americans.

Only time will tell, of course, how viable will be Santorum’s candidacy.  He participated in the first Republican debate (yes, there was already a Republican debate), during which he was upstaged by Herman Cain (and everyone else).  There will be another debate coming up soon in which Santorum will try to get some news coverage, but given that he made his announcement in Pennsylvania and not Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, he seems to already be acknowledging that he has a pretty big hill to climb if he wants to even be still in the race before the first Republican primary polls open.  Not that it will matter much.

June 7, 2011 - Posted by | 2012, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Republican, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , ,

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