Gingrich Win is an Opening for - Santorum?

January 23, 2012 11:16 AM

Now that we are in primary season, it's pretty clear: The GOP doesn't have a real answer to President Obama.

The party's once and future front-runner Mitt Romney is imploding. His hair is in place, but he's imploding.

And the new momentum guy is the retread Newt Gingrich. Gingrich so undeniably reprehensible, he can win in South Carolina all he wants, but his "angry old man" style isn't going to cut it in the general.

With all his history, does the "G" in GOP really stand for Gingrich?

What's left for Asian American Republicans may be Rick Santorum.

I admit, my initial impression of Rick Santorum for president was not a good one. He went strong with family values in Iowa and came close to winning the first night of the caucuses. When it was announced he actually won that state's caucus vote last week, the delayed victory was a punch in the gut to the presumed Iowa winner Romney.

But it all was dwarfed by the shock of Newt Gingrich's win in South Carolina on Saturday.

A victory by the morally and ethically challenged Gingrich actually leaves the Republicans in a worse position for any kind of victory in November. South Carolinians were willing to put their extreme family values aside to put Gingrich, the serial wife cheater, ahead of the pack. Exit polls suggested that Gingrich's angry performance in debates charmed voters who saw the fiery style as a winning one for November.

Never mind that once the anger subsides, you're left with a faux populist, a former Speaker of the House turned lobbyist/historian who is as inside Washington as it gets.

I understand the GOP's desperation. And the rank-and-file can feel it. Despite all that he's been given to have a cakewalk, Romney keeps stumbling. If he can't win over Republicans, what makes anyone think he can win over a nation?

As we go to Florida, we are likely to see the pattern continue. Romney comes in with so much money to buy ad time compared to the remaining candidates. But the debates have been the great equalizer, and there is one again tonight (Monday). Will Romney have a better dodge on the tax return question? Or will he again sound like he's a rich man with something to hide?

He's also likely to be skewered by the state's Latinos for his tough anti-immigrant stand, which he reiterated in South Carolina, as well as an unequivocal denouncement of the Dream Act with nary a hint of compassion.

So I'm actually rethinking Santorum for all you conservative Asian American GOPers.

He has less baggage than Gingrich and fewer waffles than Romney. He has few, if any, liberal tendencies.

He's also better positioned, from a conservative point of view, to clash with Obama on the economic issues. And those are the issues that really matter to the electorate.

I've often wondered how middle-class Americans battered by the economy could find any common ground with the kind of elite Republicans who look down their noses at them. Certainly, Gingrich and Romney have the appeal of the One Percent. They aren't regular folks. The blue collar appeal isn't there.

But Santorum has started to tell a story that could be compelling to those who have been hit hard by economic woes. On Saturday, he spoke of how he made his announcement to run for president in the Appalachian part of Pennsylvania, in Somerset, near the coal mines where his grandfather dug his way to the American Dream.

He's actually found a bit of common ground that could be big enough to attract a majority of Americans scarred by the economy. "Coal-miner's grandson" is a more attractive and humbling way of forging a class warfare fight, at least compared with One Percent Mitt's tax return story, or Angry Newt calling Obama the "Food Stamp president."

Santorum is positioning himself as the even-keeled, working class conservative for those in the 99 percent who don't like Obama or the Democrats.

It's a simple message where the 99 and the one percent can stand together. While Romney and Gingrich tear each other apart and raise the decibel level, there's Santorum talking about making sure "everyone has the opportunity to rise, not just those who have the advantage or a little more opportunity."

The message that every American has the opportunity to rise again isn't what you hear from "Me Pay Taxes?" Romney or "Get a Job" Gingrich. In that sense, Santorum has real appeal.

And in a state hard-hit by the economy like Florida, the strategy could work.

If Romney continues to fumble and the Angry Gingrich fantasy runs its course, I think Santorum's message could result in another primary surge before it's all over.

He does have a bit of a problem though. Santorum can't beat Obama either, not at this point.

But he'd be a much better choice than Romney or Gingrich for all you conservatives out there.

Besides, winning isn't everything.

***


Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.

0 comments


Leave a comment


required
required, but will not be published