Posted on | February 12, 2012 | 17 Comments
Andrea Tantaros of Fox News interviews Rick Santorum
at CPAC in Washington, D.C., Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
Back home from CPAC with about 300 business cards, two days’ growth of beard, and a voice hoarse from rocking out with Chris Cassone at Friday’s “Unsustainable Bar Tab” reception. Also, I’ve got beaucoups of photos and videos that I was unable to upload during the conference due to frustration with bandwidth issues. (Wombat suggests that it was my equipment rather than the WiFi connection that sucked. However, it is a curious fact that as soon as I hooked up the trusty Toshiba Satellite to my home network, it worked perfectly.)
Smitty previously noted that Rick Santorum has taken his first lead in a national poll — you can see the full breakdown at Public Policy Polling (PDF file) — and I would further suggest that you keep an eye on polls in Michigan over the next week or so. The current Real Clear Politics average has Santorum in fourth place, but all of the polls included in the RCP average date back to late January/early February, before Newt Gingrich’s embarrassment in Nevada, and before Santorum’s Tuesday hat trick in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
Sources close to the Santorum campaign say they’re going to challenge Romney in Michigan, which may seem like a kamikaze mission in Romney’s home state, but Santorum believes his message can win over blue-collar voters in the industrial Midwest — a belief that would appear to have been ratified in Minnesota and Missouri. Although the odds are long, Santorum will campaign hard in Michigan, which holds its primary Feb. 28, knowing that if he can upset Mitt there . . . well, game on.
Money? Extrapolating from early reports and cryptic hints from sources close to the campaign, I believe Santorum raised $5 million online last week, and when I talked Saturday morning to a top official with Santorum’s direct mail team, his comment was, “I can’t wait until Monday.” The boost Santorum got from last week’s hat-trick would obviously take a few days to produce a response from folks whose contributions involve checks sent by snail mail, and his team expects a huge influx of such contributions to come pouring in Monday and continuing through the week.
Santorum supporters should know that he ran his entire campaign through Dec. 31, 2011, with less than $2.2 million. Now imagine what havoc his thrifty grassroots campaign operation could wreak if they collect $10 million in less than two weeks. And what would happen if they got $15 million or $20 million? You can help make a miracle happen by contributing $25, $50 or $100 to Rick Santorum now. You can also contribute with your credit card over the phone by calling 888-321-6675. And if you’re one of those old-fashioned check/envelope/stamp people, they’ve got a form you need to print out and complete when you send your check to
Rick Santorum for President
P.O. Box 37
Venona PA 15147
This information is, of course, a Neutral Objective Fact, which I share with readers in my capacity as a professional journalist. And also as the Future U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu. As a further public service in my journalistic-diplomatic role, I can report that:
A. Seismologists continue to be concerned about the increasingly frequent earthquakes in Vanuatu;
B. The takeaway from the CPAC Straw Poll? It’s now a two-man race between Romney (38%) and Santorum (31%). Clearly, the conservative grassroots have concluded that Newt Gingrich (15%) can’t carry the ball against Romney, a conclusion reinforced by Saturday’s result in Maine, where Gingrich had a weak fourth-place finish, with just 6%;
C. Gingrich’s campaign is running out of money. Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has reportedly pulled the plug, a decision almost certainly influenced by Newt’s catastrophically disorganized campaign in Nevada. During CPAC, I talked to several Nevada Republicans, including Gingrich supporters who unanimously agreed that Newt’s arrogant and clueless national staff destroyed his chances there. A detailed recounting of everything Gingrich did wrong in Nevada would require thousands of words, but it was summarized by one veteran Nevada activist in a single word: “Clusterf**k.”
And, finally . . .
D. Santorum’s campaign schedule suggests a plan to replicate on a national level the campaign strategy by which he won the Iowa caucuses.
Rick Santorum will hold a rally at 7 p.m. Monday night in Tacoma, Washington, and then hold two rallies Tuesday in Idaho: Coeur D’Alene at noon and Boise at 7 p.m. It is likely that more events will be added to that list, but a glance at the GOP primary calendar shows that Washington State votes on March 3, while Idaho has its primary on Super Tuesday, March 6. By making early appearances in those states, at a time when he’s coming off one of the best weeks he has had during the campaign, Santorum clearly hopes to energize his grassroots supporters there and “steal a march,” so to speak, on Gingrich and Romney.
If what I’m hearing from sources close to the Santorum campaign is correct, he will be campaigning in Michigan and Ohio later this week. You can fit these piece together into a sort of strategic jigsaw puzzle: A strong showing (and perhaps a shocking upset win) Feb. 28 in Michigan, followed by another encouraging result March 3 in Washington State, thus establishing a powerful sense of momentum going into Super Tuesday March 6.
Here’s the trick, you see: It is not absolutely necessary that Santorum win any of the three states — Arizona, Nevada or Washington — that precede Super Tuesday. All that is necessary is that Santorum turn in stronger results than Gingrich, and then Newt will quit after a disappointing Super Tuesday result. To repeat a startling prediction I made last week: After he quits, Gingrich will endorse Romney.
People don’t believe that now, but I see Newt following the path previously trod by Tim Pawlenty, who campaigned as the “conservative alternative” to Mitt, racked up big campaign debts and thus was essentially forced to endorse Romney in the hope (and perhaps with the promise) that Mitt would help him repay those debts. Given what we’ve seen from Gingrich’s campaign so far, I don’t doubt that he will also be confronted with a substantial campaign debt by the time he finally quits, and Newt’s “conservative principles” will not outweigh his interest in getting those debts paid off by the Goldman Sachs “money power” he has attributed to the Romney campaign.
Maybe I’m wrong. But if Gingrich quits and does not immediately endorse Santorum, no one will blamed for suspecting that the fix is in. If Newt sells out to the same Establishment he has been claiming to oppose, the people who are now supporting Newt because they consider Romney unacceptable will be entitled to say they’ve been stabbed in the back.
P.S.: I hate to rattle my own tip jar at the same time I’m urging readers to contribute to Santorum’s campaign and, unless you’ve given Rick money today, please ignore this appeal. However, the hotel bill at the Marriott Wardman Park was a bit higher than my pre-CPAC estimate, and I’m looking at the calendar with an idea toward planning my next expedition onto the campaign trail. So donations to the Shoe Leather Fund would come in quite handy. But as I say, my own needs are inconsequential — trivial and insignificant — in comparison to the urgent importance of supporting Rick Santorum. Therefore, please don’t hit my freaking tip jar until you’ve hit his freaking tip jar.