Santorum Surges: Will Rickmentum Continue?

Going into last night’s trifecta of caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, Mitt “The Legacy” Romney had already been declared the presumptive Republican nominee by his conservative-website-invading horde of obnoxious paid and unpaid posters.

Which was remarkable in itself, considering that Romney had only amassed 101 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination as the Republican presidential candidate.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to Mitt’s coronation.

Two out of the three states , Minnesota and Colorado, actually had delegates at stake last night (a total of 70).  The third state, Missouri, had no delegates at stake and was labelled by the media and political pundits as a “Republican Beauty Pageant”.

Rick Santorum, who had already won the Hawkeye Cauci, was declared the winner of the contest in Missouri early in the evening, eventually winning by the margin of 55% of the vote to Romney’s 25% .  Gingrich was not on the ballot.

By around 9:00 p.m. Central Time, Santorum had been declared the winner of the Minnesota Caucus, leading Ron Paul, with 45% to 27% of the vote.  Mitt Romney – aka “Mr. Electability” – was left behind in third place.

Finally, as we woke up this morning, we were greeted by an upset: Santorum beat Romney, 40% – 35%,  in Colorado.

Apparently, Santorum worked very hard to prepare for last night’s contests:

He campaigned more aggressively this week than any of the other contenders, and he spent the day hopscotching from Colorado to Minnesota to Missouri in hopes of nailing down a victory in one of the states. Touting himself as a true conservative – a slap at Gingrich – he sought to undermine Romney’s electability claim at the same time by predicting the former Massachusetts governor would lose to Obama.

Romney responded by assailing Santorum as an advocate of congressional earmarks – shifting the criticism he had leveled at Gingrich when the Georgian seemed a more imposing threat.

In the hours before the caucuses convened, the front-runner sought to lower expectations.

“Mitt Romney is not going to win every contest,” Rich Beeson, the campaign’s political director, wrote in a memo for public consumption.

“John McCain lost 19 states in 2008, and we expect our opponents will notch a few wins, too,” Beeson wrote. McCain, the Arizona senator, won the Republican nomination four years ago.

In fact, Colorado and Minnesota were among the states that McCain failed to win, and he lost them to Romney.

In the four years since, the GOP has become more conservative in both. That posed a challenge for Romney, who runs as the Republican most likely to defeat Obama and is still trying to establish his credentials among tea party activists suspicious of a one-time moderate who backed abortion rights.

Two years ago in Minnesota, establishment candidates for governor were swept aside in the primary, and tea party-backed insurgents for governor and the Senate in Colorado won the party nominations.

In all three cases, Democrats won in the general election that fall.

Gingrich spent the day campaigning in Ohio, one of the primary states on March 6.

His campaign went into a downward spiral after he won the South Carolina primary in an upset. The former speaker was routed in the Florida primary to Romney, then finished a distant second in Nevada over the weekend.

Last night’s winner remarked to a jubilant crowd in St. Charles, Missouri:

Tonight, we had an opportunity to see what a campaign looks like when one candidate isn’t outspent 5- or 10-to-1 by negative ads impugning their integrity and distorting their record. This is a more accurate representation, frankly, of what the fall race will look like.

I don’t stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.

Regarding the political issues of health care, cap and trade and the Wall Street bailout, Santorum added:

Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama.

Speaking to supporters in Denver, Romney congratulated Santorum:

This was a good night for Rick Santorum. We’ll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee with your help.

And then, he offered a bit of solicitous prophecy:

When this primary season is over, we’re going to stand united as a party behind our nominee to defeat Barack Obama.

Of course, that is what Romney hopes.

The gigantic hurdle he faces is the fact that he is about as appealing to the conservative base as the incumbent president he will be facing if he becomes the Republican nominee.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned the hordes of supporters, both paid and unpaid, that have seemingly invaded the comments sections of conservative websites, in what can only be described as a slash and burn Romney offensive, designed to convince conservatives that Romney is “a man of the people”.

Unfortunately for the Romney campaign, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.  The posters offering their support for Romney have, through rude and obnoxious comments and insults aimed at everyday posters on these sites, have actually done more to reinforce the image heartland conservatives hold of Romney as a pompous, stuffed shirt.

These supporters have basically helped to at least temporarily stall whatever momentum Romney was building.

Whether he can get that momentum back or not, depends on whether he’s willing to actually campaign in earnest among average conservative Americans in the heartland, or he remains content to allow his internet operatives to continue to cajole and insult conservatives into begrudgingly voting for him as the “last man standing”.

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3 Responses to Santorum Surges: Will Rickmentum Continue?

  1. Lorraine says:

    <>

    The Mittbots have learned well from the Paulbots.

    I love it when you call him “The Legacy”

  2. Barb says:

    I stayed up to watch until the end. You think the hail mary in the superbowl was intense? Well, this was a nail biter. I went to sleep a very happy person who was happy to know that there are so many people out there who care about family values and conservatism……and who don’t care about what the pundits, Trump, or the establishment thinks. I am still smiling. I will work very, very hard to see to it that he wins.

  3. owleyepundit says:

    “Gang aft aglay” I think is how the poet put it.