2016 Candidate Analysis: Rick Santorum

This is the first in a series of candidate analysis posts that will explore the strengths and weaknesses of 2016 Republican Candidates for President. I will rank them on 7 different aspects: prior political victories, broad base support, enemies, fundraising ability, humility, clean record, and endurance.

Rick Santorum is a very unique person who can reach a very unique audience. While overlooked by much of the media, I believe that he will be a very credible candidate in 2016, and he is in fact one of my top two choices (along with Mike Pence).

  1. Prior Political Victories: Rick Santorum has carved a very unique niche within the Republican Primary. He has won victories in blue states, first in the house and twice in the Senate. Unfortunately, he is nicked here because he lost his last campaign by 17 points. He regained some viability as a candidate when he won 11 states in the 2012 primary process. Remember, the last Republican primary candidate to loose the nomination and win 11 states was Ronald Reagan in 1976. In this category, I give Santorum a B+.
  2. Base Support: Santorum has deep support from two very important areas in the Republican Party: Social Conservatives and Blue Collar Voters (often these groups overlap). Unfortunately, his support wanes fast after this. He may be able to put himself forward as a coalition candidate, a viable alternative for conservatives who don’t want a Bush or a Romney and an alternative for moderates who don’t want a Cruz or a Paul. I would give him a B- on this.
  3. Enemies: Santorum has some powerful enemies, but they are usually neutralized by his equally powerful friends. His time in the senate (he was chairman of the Republican Conference for 6 years) ingratiated him to heavyweights including Mitch McConnell. He has also assembled a nationwide grassroots network called Patriot Voices. I rate him an A-.
  4. Fundraising Ability: Santorum’s 2012 campaign brought in a total of $29,000,000 (compared to $24 million from Newt Gingrich). His PAC patriot voices raised 2 million in the 2014 cycle, and he has millions on tap from billionaire Foster Friess, but this alone won’t propel him to a victory. He will probably need to raise at least 40-70 million by the Iowa caucuses, and another 30 million before the end of the primaries. I will give him a C+ on this issue.
  5. Humility: Many people think that Rick Santorum is aggressive and tactless, but from my personal encounters (I spent a few hours with him in spring of 2014) with him, I disagree. He was one of the most humble politicians I had met, save perhaps Tim Scott. I’d give him an A on this issue.
  6. Clean Record: Rick Santorum has a proven record of taking his rhetoric and turning it into legislation. His major accomplishments in the Senate were welfare reform (He sponsored the Personal Responsibility and Work Oppertunity Act), the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, and a Partial Birth Abortion Ban. I grant him an A+ on this issue.
  7. Fortitude and Endurance: Santorum is one of the most enduring figures in American Politics to date. His 2012 Iowa victory was marked by criss-crossing the state, and he eventually won it. He deserves an A++ in this category.

“On the Issues” Political Spectrum

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