The Other McCain

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Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Santorum’s National Iowa-Style Strategy

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.


17 Responses to “Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Santorum’s National Iowa-Style Strategy”

  1. Michael Openshaw
    February 12th, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    Just contributed $53.19 to Rick: $17.73 x 3 for each member of the family.  We’re Tea Party folks and 1773 was the year of the Boston Tea Party.  It’s a good way to ‘label’ contributions.

  2. Anonymous
    February 12th, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    Good work, sir!

  3. Anonymous
    February 12th, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    Stacy, quick spelling correction: It’s Tacoma (like the truck), not Takoma (like the park).

    Shoulda run it by Smitty first – he knows the area like I do.

  4. Zilla of the Resistance
    February 12th, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

    I, the perpetual bleggar of the Dextrosphere, even managed to send him ten bucks! 🙂 Go Rick! 
    I hope will be able to hire some decent security or get Secret Service protection very soon; the fact that those unhinged “glitter bombers” have repeatedly gotten so close to him as to be able to throw that stuff on him makes me very uneasy. We NEED Rick, and we need him to be safe!

  5. Bob Belvedere
    February 12th, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

    Bravo on a job well done [and I can’t wait for some after action reports and a hearty ‘Huzzah’ to Smitty and Wombat and Pete.

    Between you four and C-SPAN, it was as close to being there as you could get.

    I hope you’ll offer your thoughts on Sarahcuda’s speech.

  6. Adjoran
    February 12th, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

     Speaking of polls, Rasmussen’s poll of 1000 likely voters reports 52% of voters consider the Republican agenda in Congress “extreme” while 35% say it is “mainstream.”  Now I like the quote from Goldwater’s 1964 acceptance speech at the Cow Palace (which I saw live in living black and white in the wee hours on the East Coast) as well as anyone, but I remember he didn’t win many votes with it.

    Somewhat better news is the generic congressional ballot, where the GOP holds a 43-41% edge.  However, as recently as last August we were up nine in the same poll.  Some will remember us being behind by four in the last poll before the 1994 sweep, but we had the House Banking scandal for help back then.

    It is absolutely essential we keep the House, take the Senate by a significant margin, and oust Obama in order to repeal ObamanationCare and cut the budget to restore fiscal sanity and the potential for growth in the economy.  Without all three, we can’t do it.

  7. Adjoran
    February 12th, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

    Santorum has two big challenges in the states coming up:  he has to raise money, as you note, so he can compete in multiple regions and states going forward in the campaign, and he needs to get organized in the states coming up.  It’s one thing to win caucuses and straw polls when Romney isn’t spending money against you, but Rick will have his full attention now.

    As Stacy and I expected, Gingrich is rapidly self-destructing.  He just cannot suppress his inner asshole for very long.  When Adelson’s wife gave him the second $5 million, there were already reports that Adelson was concerned that no other major donors or bundlers were jumping on the Newt train.  His self-humiliation in Nevada, with typically arrogant lack of self-awareness, was probably the last straw, happening as it did in Adelson’s own back yard.

  8. PhilipJames
    February 12th, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    Now that Rick is doing well….   how does he overcome his history with the K Street Project? That was outright crony capitalism and one of the worst practices in Washington…


     The K Street Project is an effort by the Republican Party (GOP) to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It was launched in 1995 by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and then-House majority whip Tom DeLay. It has been criticized[by whom?] as being part of a “coziness” between the GOP and large corporations which has allegedly allowed business to rewrite government regulations affecting their own industries in some cases.
    Grover Norquist claimed “it’s an ongoing project that’s been updated over the last several years, and this is the most recent iteration.” Norquist claimed that the object was “letting people know how many R’s and D’s are being hired” by certain interest groups, so that these groups would hire more Republicans to represent them.
    Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who served in the House before 1994, has often been described as the Senate liaison to the K Street Project, as he met with Norquist on a regular basis to review openings at lobbying firms and the leading candidates for those positions.

  9. Mike G.
    February 12th, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

    Newt has shown himself to be a poor sport. In his last two or three losses to Romney, he hasn’t been man enough to graciously accept defeat and congratulate the winner. That is patently UnAmerican as far as I’m concerned.

    And I’m still hoping for Ron Paul to do good enough in the upcoming primaries, that the eventual winner will have to install some of Paul’s economic policies into their platform.

  10. Anonymous
    February 12th, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

    “This information is, of course, a Neutral Objective Fact, which I share
    with readers in my capacity as a professional journalist.”

    See, it’s little tweaks of the nose like that that keep me coming back and, on rare occasion, hitting the freakin’ tip jar. You’ll really hit your stride when you quit the chicken**** outfit that is journalism and start doing the comedy circuit.

  11. Anonymous
    February 12th, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

    I’ve made the correction. Unfortunately, if you’ll click the link, you’ll discover that the misspelling was in the original press release.

  12. Mike G.
    February 12th, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    Unfortunately, I’m going to miss my yearly trip to Tacoma next week and the Muckleshoot Indian Casino because of work.

  13. Anonymous
    February 12th, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    I did, and they corrected it, too.

  14. Anonymous
    February 12th, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

    Muckleshoot’ll steal ya. You should go to Tulalip out by Marysville – they’ll treat you right.

  15. Adjoran
    February 12th, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

     Clearly a Democrat’s slant on it.  Prior to 1994, virtually all the major lobbying law firms were populated by and catered to exclusively Democratic lawyers, clients, and issues.  This was because the Democrats had dominated Congress for decades.

    The K Street project was an attempt to get more balance, get more influence for Republicans into that branch of the legal profession.  Had they not done it, lobbying wouldn’t have gone away or been any less shady (depending on the lobbyist and lobbyee).

  16. Christopher Renner
    February 13th, 2012 @ 12:20 am

    In the other oh-so-slight-place-name-corrections category: Santorum’s campaign address is in Verona, PA (Romeo & Juliet) rather than Venona (Cold War spying). ZIP was right, though.

  17. Ccassone
    February 13th, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    Isn’t their any film of Honky Tonk Women…at the Unsustainable Bar Tab event of FourTier?