Posted by Curt on 27 December, 2011 at 9:49 am. 45 comments already!

And Newt goes boom!

Newt Gingrich voiced enthusiasm for Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law when it was passed five years ago, the same plan he has been denouncing over the past few months as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination.

“The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system,” said an April 2006 newsletter published by Gingrich’s former consulting company, the Center for Health Transformation.

The two-page “Newt Notes” analysis, found online by The Wall Street Journal even though it no longer appears on the center’s website, continued, “We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans.”

And it now appears, as many of us feared; it is ObamaLite’s race to lose:

…While his position in the national horse race matchup is far from decisive—at this writing the RealClearPolitics average of the national polls shows Newt Gingrich with a slight lead—Romney dominates in all of the structural categories that typically correspond with victory. He has a huge money advantage—with more than $14 million in cash on hand as of the last report mandated by the Federal Election Commission (and that does not include the financial assistance he has received from “SuperPacs” that operate freely on his behalf). This financial edge gives Romney the ability to flood the early states with television advertisements and employ plenty of professional staffers to manage his ground game. Romney also has a runaway lead in the race for endorsements by Republican officeholders; while these move few voters, they reinforce Romney’s institutional advantages, giving him greater access to well-heeled donors as well as on-the-ground campaign intelligence.

Jay Cost further writes that the “not Romney” camp isn’t as huge as many believe it to be:

That said, the conventional wisdom about Romney’s candidacy—that there is a huge “not Romney” bloc of GOP voters out there—is massively overstated. Romney’s favorable rating among prospective Republican primary voters is quite high, upwards of 60 percent, and the latest CNN poll of GOP voters shows that 80 percent of Republicans either support him now or would consider supporting him at some point; this is a larger number than that of any of his major competitors. Yet the theory about a “not Romney” bloc has some merit; what is particularly noteworthy about his numbers is that a relatively large proportion of the GOP electorate—between 40 and 50 percent—believe he will eventually be the nominee, but his actual support tends to be about half that size. So, if there is no vehement “not Romney” faction of Republicans, there is at least a group of GOP voters who are hesitant for some reason.

So is that pretty much it? Every other candidate has gone boom and any candidate that we really wanted to see…a Palin, Ryan, Christie or Jeb Bush never even stepped into the ring.

So it will be Romney

Or will it?

With 45 percent of Iowa Republican voters undecided and a roller-coaster ride about to come to a screeching stop next Tuesday with the GOP caucuses, it may be Rick Santorum’s turn to take the final ascent and surprise the political class by … doing better than expected?

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, has been touted as the sleeper candidate by none other than 2008 Iowa caucuses winner Mike Huckabee. He has relentlessly campaigned in the state, hitting all 99 counties and moving his family out there. He has held 350 campaign events in the past year.

He has received key endorsements from well-known social conservatives in the state, and has had solid performances at each of the debates. And he’s running an old-school style campaign that Iowa voters expect in the retail-style politics of the Hawkeye State.

The man whose at the back of the polling pack — despite recent buzz giving him a late boost — is taking nothing for granted but has nothing to lose.

“My feeling is when you’re sitting last, if you can do better than that, that’s good,” he told Fox News.

Santorum said he’s got 1,000 caucus representatives in a contest with about 1,700 caucus locations. He acknowledges that means no official representative to make his case at each of the locations, but at “almost all of them, and no other campaign is going to have someone there who’s going to get up and speak on our behalf.”

Santorum, who claims organization and message will make the difference, is also banking on a divide and conquer strategy.

“There’s really three primaries going on here,” Santorum said. “Ron Paul has his own primary, the libertarian primary. And (Newt) Gingrich and (Mitt) Romney are sort of the establishment primary. And I think there are three who are vying for the conservative mantle to go up against the Gingrich-Romney duo. And I think that I’m going to be the one coming out Iowa with that mantle.

“And if we can do that, then we’re off to the races here, and conservatives around the country, just like they’re doing here in Iowa, are going to start rallying around our campaign,” he said.

Dick Morris believes he is surging:

All along, the Tea Party voters have yet to unite behind a single candidate. They still aren’t united, but in Iowa, there is evidence that Rick Santorum may be surging ahead.

In the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) telephone poll of 23,000 supporters nationally, Newt led with 31% of the vote, followed by Bachmann at 28%, Romney at 20% and Santorum with a surprising 16%.

But on the ground in Iowa, where it counts, Gingrich has gone through a gauntlet of $10 million of negative TV ads sponsored by Romney, Paul, and the others. Without funds to defend himself, he has seen his vote share drop. Ron Paul’s has risen, Bachmann’s has fallen, and Santorum has increased quickly.

There has always been a sort of mini-primary among the Tea Party followers among Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Cain, and Santorum – the candidates they find acceptable. Gingrich’s and Bachmann’s drop, Cain’s withdrawal, and Perry’s stagnation all contrast sharply with Santorum’s surge.

The former Pennsylvania Senator has been the also ran in the field, the Rodney (I get no respect) Dangerfield of the Republican primaries. But with the lack of poll numbers has come a lack of scrutiny. These days the spotlight can get too hot very quickly. Santorum, whose conservative record is as solid as they come, is benefiting from the fall of Gingrich in a way Bachmann seems unable to do.

And:

“[Santorum] is the one candidate in the race who hasn’t caught his wave yet,” says Vander Plaats, who served as Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa campaign chairman and now heads the Family Leader, a coalition of socially conservative groups. “We believe he’s going to catch his wave. And we believe he’s the one candidate who can withstand the scrutiny of being on top.”

It may very well be time to visit Santorum, his record and what he stands for. Just a quick search over the past few days of newsbits led me to his thinking on the 2nd Amendment and the importance of getting solid conservative justices on the bench:

More specifically, the former Pennsylvania senator warned that reelecting President Obama next fall could weaken gun rights. He cited the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the 2008 Heller case that struck down portions of the District of Columbia’s strict gun control laws.

“If you read the dissent in Heller, no gun owner should feel comfortable this is a secure constitutional right according to this Supreme Court, and that’s why we need a good, strong Republican conservative who understands what it means to appoint and confirm solid judges and justices,” Santorum said.

I like his foreign policy:

But Santorum’s seriousness rebounds to his credit when it comes to foreign policy. The former third-ranking Republican in the Senate has spent a lot of time thinking about America’s role in the world. And during the debates, he’s been a hawk’s hawk, sparring with Ron Paul over the Iranian threat. “I think Michele Bachmann understates how dangerous Ron Paul would be,” says Santorum. “Many conservatives would fear literally for their safety if Ron Paul would get in there to work with liberal Democrats to gut the Defense Department, to pull back every forward-deployed troop all over the world.”

He’s certainly worth a second look it appears. The question is….can he go toe to toe with ObamaLite?

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