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March 10th, 2010

Santorum States His Case to Conservative Iowans

In March of 2006, a relatively unknown governor from Arkansas made his way to Iowa to deliver the keynote address to the Iowa Christian Alliance’s annual spring kickoff. The robust crowd that was assembled in the Des Moines Christian school lunch room got their first glimpse of Mike Huckabee, who would win the Iowa caucuses less than two years later.

Just as it was four years ago, another relatively unknown politician came to Des Moines last night to speak to the four hundred or so people gathered at the Iowa Christian Alliance kickoff event. As was the case with Huckabee in 2006, nobody really thinks that former United States Senator Rick Santorum has any chance of winning the Iowa caucuses in 2012. Sure, he’s a nice enough guy and impressive speaker, but he’s got a weird last name. There is no way that Rick Santorum is a credible presidential candidate, right?

If the 2008 Republican caucuses taught us anything, it’s that we should never underestimate an authentic conservative candidate who is blessed with phenomenal communication skills. While you may laugh at his last name or scoff at the fact that he lost his re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Rick Santorum will be a major factor in Iowa if he decides to run for president in 2012.

While the similarities between Huckabee and Santorum are uncanny, the circumstances surrounding their speeches to the Iowa Christian Alliance couldn’t be more different. In 2006, nobody in the national media noticed that Huckabee was Iowa bound. He slipped in and out of Iowa basically unnoticed. Santorum was greeted as he stepped into Iowa by a round of automated phone calls that accused him of being a pro-life fraud.

Anyone who has followed Santorum’s career would recognize that the attack of Santorum on the life issue is complete nonsense. The tactics of these attacks are becoming all too familiar in Iowa. The people behind the calls either failed to realize or simply don’t care that Santorum has recently admitted that his support of Arlen Specter in the 2004 U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania was a mistake. Not only did Santorum say as much at CPAC last month, but he did so again last night in Des Moines.

No matter how misguided the attacks of Santorum are, he said that he wasn’t upset with those behind the calls. Instead, he said that he admires their commitment to the issue of protecting the unborn, and admitted that while he had a 100% pro-life voting record, he didn’t always fight for life, so in some ways being called a fraud on the life issues wasn’t totally out of line.

Santorum then shared with the audience his pro-life testimony. He told the story about his wife’s pregnancy in 1996, when the doctors told the Santorums that their unborn son had a fatal birth defect and likely wouldn’t live. Instead of aborting the child, they named him Gabriel. Santorum said he held his son for two hours in the hospital before he died.

As part of the grieving process, Santorum’s wife Karen wrote a series of letters to Gabriel. The letters were later compiled into a book entitled Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum. Throughout his speech, Santorum read portions of the book. He delivered a powerful pro-life testimony that moved many in attendance emotionally.

If Santorum does run for president and finds success in Iowa, political pundits and members in the media will once again try and paint the picture that the only reason Santorum is a viable candidate in Iowa is because of his ultra conservative views on issues like abortion and gay marriage. Such a simplistic view of Santorum would severely understate what he would bring to a potential presidential campaign.

Unlike Huckabee, Santorum is well versed in foreign policy. He served eight years on the on the Armed Services Committee, is also a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington think tank where he founded a program called “America’s Enemies.” Out of all the rumored potential 2012 candidates, Santorum will likely have the most foreign policy experience.

Even though he will have to account for his unsuccessful 2006 re-election campaign, Santorum is not associated with the current congress that is unpopular with the American people. During his visit to Dubuque last October, he was tough on his former Republican colleagues. He chastised Republicans for passing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He said that he prayed that Sen. John McCain would suspend his campaign to go back to Washington to blow up the idea, something Santorum admitted McCain was good at. Yet McCain supported it, which Santorum believes led to his defeat.

He also stated that, by supporting TARP, Republicans helped pave the way for a newly elected President Obama to expand on what Congress had already started. In essence, he said that after Republicans had opened the door to government takeover of certain businesses, President Obama was given the green light to kick the door open by bailing out the auto companies and pushing for government controlled health care.

There is no doubt that his failed 2006 campaign will haunt him, but Santorum lost that race while standing firm on conservative principles, and there is no shame in that. Potential candidates are already starting to position themselves in Iowa for the 2012 caucuses. Of all the possible candidates, Santorum has probably done himself the most good thus far. Santorum is making the most logical steps in formulating an Iowa caucus campaign.

Santorum is a full spectrum conservative with all the abilities that Mike Huckabee had in 2008. He is one candidate to keep your eye on in Iowa.

Photo by Dave Davidson


About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheIowaRepublican.com. Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.




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