GOP Presidential Debate: Santorum Spotlight

By Jared Edgerton

Tonight is the first Republican Presidential debate which will feature the heavyweight contenders former Governor Mitt Romney and former Speaker Newt Gingrich; the debate also features our own former Senator Rick Santorum.

Santorum has been using a media blitz to overcome his limited name recognition making frequent television appearances and campaign stops. This week Santorum will run his first presidential campaign ad in New Hampshire. The ad attacks Obama on the deficit and touts Santorum as a fiscal hawk and social conservative.  Tonight’s debate will also offer him an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

According to a Gallup Poll Santorum’s numbers have tripled over the last few weeks to six percent, tying him with former Governor Tim Pawlenty at six percent. Romney leads at 24 percent. The jump in poll number can be partially attributed to Santorum’s formal announcement last week, aggressive campaigning (he has visited Iowa 15 times, New Hampshire 18 times and South Carolina 15 times) and former Governor Mike Huckabee declining to run again. Huckabee choice not to run put social conservative voters up for grabs, whose support would be crucial for Santorum to secure the nomination.

Although the spike in support seems promising it could be a red herring. A CNN Poll indicates that Republicans are looking for a candidate that can beat President Obama and not a candidate that they agree with on every issue, which favors Romney.

Tonight, the Senator will likely try and discuss his long record of support for social conservative causes. He was a staunch advocate for amendments banning abortion and gay marriage during his tenure in the Senate and he will likely use his record to attack Romney.

Santorum may also try and discuss his foreign policy credentials – in the Senate he was strong proponent for the Iraq War, and also sounded the warning bell on Iran threat to regional stability and American interests.

So tonight look for Santorum to try and distinguish himself from the pack by talking about social conservative issues and foreign policy experience; and, along with all the other candidates, attacking Romney’s at-times-moderate record as Governor.

5 thoughts on “GOP Presidential Debate: Santorum Spotlight

  1. It’s Mitt Romney’s nomination to lose. Romney and Governor Nikki Haley in 2012.

  2. Santorum was great, eventually he will pick up his poll numbers and have more air time and more opportunity to speak. Sometimes he rushes his statements b/c he hardly gets any time! He would balance a ticket with Romney – a WINNING ticket (if two white men can win in this country…).

  3. “Heavy weight”??? Newt Gingrich. I think you mean “over-weight”.

    Santorum’s not going to win the nomination. However, he does have a chance of being the GOP’s 2012 “Sarah Palin” as the conservative VP-pick to balance out Romney and killing the ticket.

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