Plenty more today on the yin 'n yang of Rick Santorum's sudden player status in the GOP presidential race:
Santorum had to run as a moderate in Democratic-leaning Pennsylania in 2006, so much so that he (and media guru John Brabender) released the ad above bragging about working with Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer.
The NYT describes how Santorum became a millionaire after leaving office in 2006, by fashioning "a lucrative post-government career based largely on income from businesses that had benefited from his work in Congress."
The WashPost goes over the territory too, noting his role in in the "K Street Project," which pressured "industry groups and lobbying firms to hire Republicans for influential jobs and punish those who brought in Democrats."
While that insider status could hurt his middle class campaign pitch, his huge 2006 loss to Bob Casey hurts his electability argument that he can appeal to a wide group of voters. From Politico:
By the time of his nearly 18-point loss — a stunning margin for a two-term incumbent — he had also alienated women voters, moderate Republicans and independents — not to mention the Democrats he had once won over. He lost almost every region of the state and almost every demographic group, including the blue-collar workers he singles out on the campaign trail in 2012. And along the way, he compiled an encyclopedia of opposition research that his rivals can now use to raise doubts about his electability.
Mitt Romney loves Santorum in the field, since he splinters the field and will be very easy to beat for the nomination, writes Christian Heinze at GOP12:
Santorum lacks gravitas, got trashed the last time he ran for office, is saddled with pretty damaging stereotypes, doesn't have money, doesn't have any establishment support, and has such a primitive national organization that even the nation of Congo is like "Dude, get it together."
And if Santorum can't be the underdog anymore -- "Nobody asked me!" he wailed after the Reagan debate in September -- doesn't that run the risk of dampening the fiery attitude that almost won him Iowa to begin with? The great Molly Ball at The Atlantic is already noticing it:
Except Santorum seems to believe he is already a star, rather than a man still being introduced to the voting public here. Many attendees at his events in New Hampshire don't know anything about him except that he won Iowa, which, for them, isn't necessarily a commendation. And the issue Santorum spent the most time on here Thursday was the Stop Online Piracy Act, the copyright-protection legislation that's become a lightning rod for Internet activists who see it as a threat to freedom of speech, but also is by no means a major voting issue nationwide.
While he's long been staffed up in New Hampshire and South Carolina, the big Florida primary waits next and he's way behind there. The Tampa Bay Times got a memo from Santorum's Florida chair issued Monday saying "we have over 110 volunteers in Florida but they are mostly grouped together in the more populated areas and most of them aren't interested in leading. I am looking to find county chairs across this great state to help lead this effort."
Now to the good, which I suppose must be called "the yang":
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey in conservative South Carolina shows he's surged to within 3 points of Mitt Romney, at 27 to 24%. He used to be at 1%. (Romney crushes him 42-13% in their latest N.H. take.). A new Time/CNN poll has S.C. at 37-19% between the two men.
Fundraising is taking off (relatively). He's raised $2 million in the last two days, CNN reports.
WashPost columnist Michael Gerson welcomes the return of a "compassionate conservative" to the race:
But perhaps the most surprising result of the Iowa caucuses was the return of compassionate conservatism from the margins of the Republican stage to its center. Rick Santorum is not just an outspoken social conservative; he is the Republican candidate who addresses the struggles of blue-collar workers and the need for greater economic mobility. He talks not only of the rights of the individual but also of the health of social institutions, particularly the family. He draws out the public consequences of a belief in human dignity — a pro-life view applied to the unborn and to victims of AIDS in Africa.