Rick Santorum, who pitched himself as the true conservative in the race and used a platform focused on social issues to come from well back in the pack to be the main challenger to Mitt Romney, announced (Monday) afternoon that he is suspending his effort for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.I can't really blame him. Family should come first. Regardless of your political leanings, I hope you will take a moment to say a prayer for Santorum's daughter.
Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, told a gathering of reporters in Gettysburg that his three-year-old daughter's battle with a genetic disease, and her hospitalization over the weekend, "did cause us to think ... about the role we have as parents." And he concluded it was time to step aside from the campaign trail, where his campaign no longer appeared to have time left to stop Romney from being the nominee.
Shortly after Santorum's announcement, Gingrich made a play for Santorum's supporters. Ron Paul's people likewise argued that their man deserved the allegiance of Santorum backers.
But that's beside the point. Of the three remaining candidates, Romney is the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. Ron Paul has been relegated to the role of after-thought. He's a novelty act that appeals only to a small number of fanatics. That's a shame, because I share his libertarian views to a certain extent. However, I think he goes too far on a number of them.
Newt is an interesting case. In my opinion he is the smartest and most articulate of anyone still running -- including obama. I like his approach to many of the issues: big problems call for big ideas, not just tinkering with existing policies. I also think he'd flat-out destroy barry in a head-to-head debate.
But Newt also has baggage - lots of it. There are ethics questions regarding his use of campaign funds. And of course, there is his history of infidelity. The press paints him as a cross between Bill Clinton and John Edwards, and there is some basis for that characterization.
Some people say a politician's private life is irrelevant. That was the liberals' position during Monicagate. Conservatives, on the other hand, argued during the entire blue dress kerfluffle that "character counts." Today everyone has switched sides. Newt's detractors argue that he's shown he can't be trusted to keep his word, while his supporters say his marital history doesn't matter.
I side with the "character counts" folks. I said it with Clinton, and with Edwards, and I hold that position with Newt. As much as I like his ideas, I can't get past the fact that he broke his oath "to forsake all others." Why should I believe that he'll keep an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America"?
That leaves us with Romney. By all accounts he is a good family man, a man whose personal life is above reproach. But he's also an incremental thinker, not a radical one. By that I mean he has small ideas to improve the status quo, at a time when big ideas are needed to address big problems. To borrow an overused phrase, he can't think outside the box.
He also doesn't have the most scintillating personality. He's not exactly Mr. Electricity. Women don't swoon when he walks in a room. He comes across as privileged and out of touch with most people. He's Mormon, which shouldn't matter, but will to some people. And there's that whole Romneycare thing hanging around his neck.
Still, Romney has one great big thing going for him.
He's not obama...