Bring on the social issues

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to supporters during a campaign appearance in Fallon, Nevada February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

You can practically hear the champagne corks popping in the White House as the Republicans in Congress and the presidential candidates start talking about social issues. Rick Santorum wants to go back to 1949, and suddenly the angry right is talking more about contraception that jobs.

While most GOP strategists are horrified by this development, James Taranto tries to argue that this is a good thing for the GOP. Really.

If you’re a Republican in New York or another big city, you may be anxious or even terrified at the prospect that Rick Santorum, the supposedly unelectable social conservative, may win the GOP presidential nomination. Jeffrey Bell would like to set your mind at ease.

Social conservatism, Mr. Bell argues in his forthcoming book, “The Case for Polarized Politics,” has a winning track record for the GOP. “Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964,” he observes. “The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

Read the whole thing. It’s a staggering example of selectively picking facts to suit your argument. Listening to this argument, you would think that the Cold War, the economy and the Iranian hostage crisis had nothing to do with Reagan’s win in 1980 (let alone Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Carter in the primaries).

This simplistic view might placate some Republicans, and hopefully enough of them will jump on this bandwagon. Perhaps we’ll see a fall campaign with Rick Santorum railing against contraception and online gambling.

Romney’s Super PAC goes after Rick Santorum

Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney’s Super PAC is now going after Rick Santorum. Romney’s team has no choice, as Romney’s support is plummeting, yet all the negativity surrounding Romney’s attack ads is taking its toll on Romney as well. He’s a lame candidate, and his only strategy seems to be tearing apart even lamer candidates. His support among independents is tanking, and his “severely conservative” speech is making him a laughing stock with conservatives.

As for Santorum, he’s vulnerable to attack for many reasons. In a general election he’ll have to answer for his extreme positions on social issues, but he’s also the poster child for Republican mistakes during the Bush years when they spent like crazy trying to keep their majority.

Yet even with all these vulnerabilities, the Romney ad comes across as a series of cheap shots. Sure, Santorum voted to increase the debt limit, but everyone was voting that way, including practically all Republicans when Bush was president.

I still have no idea how this is going to play out, but whoever emerges from this savage primary season will be very damaged heading into a general election.

Does Rick Santorum have a chance?

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks at his Iowa Caucus night rally in Johnston, Iowa, January 3, 2012. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

With his surprise showing in Iowa, Rick Santorum has become the new hope of the conservative movement, or at least some in the conservative movement. Santorum has been getting pummeled at conservative sites like RedState.com for his past support for pork barrel spending and other big spending programs during the Bush years when the GOP abandoned nearly everything they claimed to stand for regarding the size of government. Santorum has not joined the anti-earmark bandwagon pushed by the Tea Party, and Erick Erickson keeps hammering him for that.

At least one prominent conservative, however, is offering support to Santorum – George Will. Will offers up a column defending Santorum’s record, so let’s see if that changes the minds of some Tea Party members who are skeptical of Santorum.

Effective ad against Gingrich

A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney has unleashed this ad against Newt Gingrich in Iowa. The focus on Newt’s “baggage” seems to be resonating.

Meanwhile, the PPP poll now has Gingrich in a free fall in Iowa, as he has slipped to third place.

Newt Gingrich’s campaign is rapidly imploding, and Ron Paul has now taken the lead in Iowa. He’s at 23% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Gingrich, 10% each for Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, 4% for Jon Huntsman, and 2% for Gary Johnson.

Gingrich won’t even spend time in Iowa, so I can’t imagine how he’s going to hold on against candidates who are betting their campaigns on the caucuses.

If this trend continues, you’ll see Santorum, Perry or Bachmann possibly get into the top three, so this race is still very fluid. Romney benefits from having the anti-Romney vote split up. The Iowa vote often breaks late, so anything can happen here.

Rick Santorum’s bizarre views about sex hold back his campaign

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks to delegates during the Republican Party of Florida Presidency 5 Convention in Orlando, Florida September 24, 2011. REUTERS/Phelan Ebenhack (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Rick Santorum is notorious for his comments about gay marriage and homosexuals. But his strict Catholic upbringing leads him to comment about sex quite often, and he seems intent on imposing his views on everyone else.

We’ll repeal Obamacare and get rid any idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage. One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is OK. It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.

Really? Now he has a problem with contraception?

With the collapse of Rick Perry and the incomprehensible abortion comments from Herman Cain, I thought there might be room for a conservative like Santorum to emerge as one of the anti-Romney candidates. But Rick Santorum’s obsession with sexual issues keeps holding him back. He also seems clueless that these views might hinder his campaign.

He’s certainly entitled to his opinion, and many believe that the sexual revolution has been a bad thing for our culture (I don’t), but he seems intent on turning the clock back. As a result, the only thing he’s really running for is a commentator position on Fox News.

Hopefully I’m wrong, as Santorum would be one of the easiest Republicans for President Obama to defeat in 2012 if he somehow snagged the nomination.

Herman Cain is clueless on abortion

GOP voters will be very interested in this video.

Herman Cain’s stated position on abortion is that he’s pro-life, even in cases of rape and incest. Yet when pressed in this video, he goes on to state that it’s up to each family and the government can’t get involved in the decision. Of course that’s a libertarian, pro-choice position.

Does he even understand the difference? Cain has embraced his own ignorance of issues relating to foreign policy, and apparently that ignorance extends to social issues as well.

This present a huge opening for candidates like Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. Rasmussen now has Cain leading in Iowa. Can that last with statements like this? Can he keep his Tea Party support?

Battle of the Ricks – Santorum blasts Perry

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana June 17, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

Rick Santorum is a longshot candidate in the GOP field, but in Iowa he’s gaining a little traction with his far-right views on social issues. Rick Perry complicates Santorum’s strategy, as the field is now even more crowded with Christianist candidates, so Santorum is not being shy about taking on Perry. He jumped on Perry’s outrageous comments about Ben Bernanke:

RCK SANTORUM: Gov. Perry steps into the race and he stepped on it a couple of times already. Washington DC is not Austin and my sense is that he’s gonna have a pretty good learning curve, not just on what it means to run a national campaign and have the scrutiny of the national media that he didn’t have in Texas—

JOHN KING: What do you mean by he stepped on it?

SANTORUM: Well his comments about Ben Bernanke, they were completely out of bounds. I don’t agree with Ben Bernanke’s policies… but to me the rhetoric that Rick Perry used was sort of the rhetoric I would expect from a John Conyers, talking about President Bush and saying he should be impeached. We don’t do that. We don’t impeach people, we don’t charge people with treason because we disagree with them on public policy. You might say that they’re wrong, you might say lots of things about how misguided they are, but you don’t up the ante to that type of rhetoric. It’s out of place, and hopefully Gov. Perry will step back and recognize that we’re not in Texas anymore.

It’s interesting to see the battle lines being drawn, and Perry is the prime target now that he’s getting all the buzz and good news in the polls.

CNN debate highlights from Jon Stewart

This is going to be a fun political season.

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