How did blue-collar Rick Santorum expose Mitt Romney’s class problem?

"So what does it mean for the other guy, the guy whose ample deficiencies were brought to life in the paunchy form of Santorum? There will be much chatter now about Romney’s coming Etch-a-Sketch shake, the inevitable move to erase the contemporary conservative orthodoxies he’s embraced and whether that will cost him on the right. If you ask me, this isn’t really the right question. Romney will get the hardcore conservatives, no matter whom they voted for in the primaries, because the hardcore conservatives loathe, or perhaps simply fear, our president. I think of people like Bill Connor, an Army veteran and 2010 candidate for lieutenant governor in South Carolina who is now a practicing attorney there and was a leading Santorum supporter in the state. I checked in with him this afternoon and he was fully ready to back Romney come November. “I am very concerned with the things Barack Obama has done the past few years and am concerned that if he’s elected again there will be almost no check on what he would do in pushing us to the left, so I’m motivated to go in and vote for the Republican nominee,” Connor said. “I saw Rick Santorum as being more conservative across the board; there was more passion there. But I think as we move toward the general election the passion will be there to get someone more conservative than Barack Obama.”"

- Alec MacGillis, Farewell to Rick, Who Was Not Mitt

Photo courtesy of Salon

When will Santorum fold?
"More than any presidential candidate since maybe Gary Hart in 1984, Santorum vindicated the quixotic dreamers who struggle on despite invisible poll ratings, tin-cup financing, and the dismissive wisecracks from political insiders. Santorum was a throw-back candidate—not only with his 1950s social values, but also in his forged-by-necessity embrace of the most old-fashioned way of running for president. In Iowa, where he made his move in the polls only two weeks before the January 3 caucuses, Santorum campaigned everywhere, responded at (sometimes tedious) length to every voter question, and cheerfully deflected skeptical press queries like the one I posed to him in mid-December: “Some days, don’t you get discouraged?”"
- Walter Shapiro, The One Nice Thing About Rick Santorum’s Now-Doomed Campaign
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When will Santorum fold?

"More than any presidential candidate since maybe Gary Hart in 1984, Santorum vindicated the quixotic dreamers who struggle on despite invisible poll ratings, tin-cup financing, and the dismissive wisecracks from political insiders. Santorum was a throw-back candidate—not only with his 1950s social values, but also in his forged-by-necessity embrace of the most old-fashioned way of running for president. In Iowa, where he made his move in the polls only two weeks before the January 3 caucuses, Santorum campaigned everywhere, responded at (sometimes tedious) length to every voter question, and cheerfully deflected skeptical press queries like the one I posed to him in mid-December: “Some days, don’t you get discouraged?”"

- Walter Shapiro, The One Nice Thing About Rick Santorum’s Now-Doomed Campaign

Did Mitt Romney win the Michigan Primary or did he merely survive it?

"But why was it ever this close? Romney had superior money, organization, and, for a long time, name recognition. This state ought to be friendly to him—not because of his family ties, which were never as important as pundits assumed, but because the economy is the biggest issue in Michigan and Romney bills himself as the candidate best positioned to deal with it. Instead, Romney had to fight off an insurgency from Rick Santorum, who appealed to to economically strapped voters by appealing to their cultural values."

—Jonathan Cohn, “Survival of the Mittest

For more analysis of last night’s primaries, visit TNR.com for articles from Ed Kilgore on whether or not Romney has put the Republican establishment at ease and Alec MacGillis on why Romney’s campaign strategy in Michigan may have cost him the state in the general election.

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Could operation hilarity backfire?
"What few have been asking, though, is whether Operation Hilarity is as strategically surefire for the Democrats as its plotters make out. No question, it would be delightful for Democrats to watch Romney suffering a loss on his home turf after having outspent Santorum 2-1 in the state. But what if Romney’s humiliation is too severe?"
—Alec MacGillis, “Could operation hilarity backfire?”
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
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Could operation hilarity backfire?

"What few have been asking, though, is whether Operation Hilarity is as strategically surefire for the Democrats as its plotters make out. No question, it would be delightful for Democrats to watch Romney suffering a loss on his home turf after having outspent Santorum 2-1 in the state. But what if Romney’s humiliation is too severe?"

—Alec MacGillis, “Could operation hilarity backfire?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Is Rick Santorum’s Michigan insurgency running on fumes?
"Santorum’s tragedy is that his campaign’s lack of professionalism has undermined real advantages. Foremost among them are the manifest weaknesses of Mitt Romney himself. This is a candidate so uninspiring that he can’t even pull off a home-state Michigan pander. (At the Ford Field event in front of 65,000 empty seats, Romney burbled, ‘You know the trees are the right height, the streets are just right.’)"
—Walter Shapiro, “Why Rick Santorum’s Insurgency is Now Running on Fumes”
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
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Is Rick Santorum’s Michigan insurgency running on fumes?

"Santorum’s tragedy is that his campaign’s lack of professionalism has undermined real advantages. Foremost among them are the manifest weaknesses of Mitt Romney himself. This is a candidate so uninspiring that he can’t even pull off a home-state Michigan pander. (At the Ford Field event in front of 65,000 empty seats, Romney burbled, ‘You know the trees are the right height, the streets are just right.’)"

—Walter Shapiro, “Why Rick Santorum’s Insurgency is Now Running on Fumes

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

TNR presents a college paper by Rick Santorum—and what it says about his political evolution.

"But more significantly, the paper with its detailed discussion of the process of politics, is arguably the latest confirmation of something that the media lately begun to discover, or rather rediscover, about Santorum: The man who is arguably America’s foremost culture warrior was—for much of his early career, including his four years at Penn State—less an ideologue than a political tactician."

—Molly Redden, “A College Paper by Rick Santorum—and What it Says about his Political Evolution

For more, enter the latest TNR Contest: how would you grade Rick Santorum’s college term paper?

Photo courtesy of Penn State University Library

Is 2012 going to be a Goldwater style disaster?

"A specter is haunting the Republican establishment—the specter of Barry Goldwater. With recent polling data suggesting that Rick Santorum has surged ahead of Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide, the people whose livelihoods depend on Republican electoral victories are terrified by the growing possibility of a massive wipeout in November, much like the one that Republicans experienced in 1964, when Goldwater was their nominee."

—Geoffrey Kabaservice, “How the GOP’s Looming Election Disaster Is, and Isn’t, like 1964

Is Mitt’s Willie Horton Ad Man Up To The Task?
"Which leads me to wonder: why has Restore Our Future so far come out with only weak tea to pour on Santorum? The PACs ads…pretty much all revolve around Santorum’s fondness for earmarks and his status as a Washington insider. Both of these things are true, but they are also fairly generic charges, lacking the specificity of Gingrich’s $1.6-million haul from Freddie Mac. The ads also hit Santorum for voting to raise the debt limit five times, but surely many voters absorbed enough from the debt-ceiling fiasco this summer to understand that for years voting to raise the debt limit was but a Washington formality. The closest the ads come to drawing any real blood is their cynical mention of Santorum’s having supported restoring voting rights to felons—a depressing bit of race-baiting coming from Mitt Romney, whose father led a walk-out from the 1964 national Republican convention over the party’s rejection of a civil rights plank.”
—Alec MacGillis, “Is Mitt’s Willie Horton Ad Man Up To The Task?”
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
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Is Mitt’s Willie Horton Ad Man Up To The Task?

"Which leads me to wonder: why has Restore Our Future so far come out with only weak tea to pour on Santorum? The PACs ads…pretty much all revolve around Santorum’s fondness for earmarks and his status as a Washington insider. Both of these things are true, but they are also fairly generic charges, lacking the specificity of Gingrich’s $1.6-million haul from Freddie Mac. The ads also hit Santorum for voting to raise the debt limit five times, but surely many voters absorbed enough from the debt-ceiling fiasco this summer to understand that for years voting to raise the debt limit was but a Washington formality. The closest the ads come to drawing any real blood is their cynical mention of Santorum’s having supported restoring voting rights to felons—a depressing bit of race-baiting coming from Mitt Romney, whose father led a walk-out from the 1964 national Republican convention over the party’s rejection of a civil rights plank.”

—Alec MacGillis, “Is Mitt’s Willie Horton Ad Man Up To The Task?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Can Romney revamp his image and turn his campaign around? 

"The solution to many problems of political authenticity is for the candidate to abandon the dictates of his handlers and just go with his instincts. The problem for Romney is that the doctrine of “Let Mitt Be Mitt” would probably produce a candidate with the warmth of a business consultant and the inner conviction of a market-based algorithm. In short, hiding behind that Mitt Romney mask is (yikes) another Mitt Romney mask."

-Walter Shapiro, “Why Mitt Romney’s Presidential Prospects May Not Be Salvageable

Photo courtesy of ABC News

Who is the eccentric crocodile-hunting billionaire who kept the Santorum campaign alive?

"When Friess returned home to the United States, it was to a pursuit even more far-fetched than killing giant-crocodiles—trying to get Rick Santorum elected president. Friess is responsible for $331,000 of the $730,000 raised by Santorum’s Super PAC, the Red White and Blue Fund. He has also kicked in a third of the $150,000 raised by Leaders for Families, another pro-Santorum Super PAC. Friess has promised to keep the spigot open until the February 28 Michigan primary, if not beyond.

—Molly Redden, “Pac Man: An eccentric Republican billionaire contemplates his next move.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.