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Monday, January 16, 2012

Rick Santorum's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the third in a six-part series between now and next Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, click here.
For Jon Huntsman's (awkward), click here.)

On August 27, you remove the enormous rock from over your hole for the first time in 30 weeks. Living under it has been a difficult experience, but with the impending 2012 apocalypse, you were sure it was the safest place to be. However, with dwindling supplies and a huge craving for Taco Bell, you surface. You're fortunate that despite malnourishment, you know you can go across the street for medical and other kinds of "attention." After receiving said attention, you have two goals in your handful of days above ground. First, chalupas. Second, catch up on the Republican Presidential Primary at Presidential Politics for America.

You go to your living room and turn on Fox News and its coverage of Day One of the Republican National Convention. You listen as Sean Hannity guarantees the Republican nominee will win fifty states in the general election, because everyone in the country see the United States in exactly the same way as Sean Hannity does. He knows this must be true because everyone at his network agrees on everything.

You wonder who the nominee ended up being. "Surely it was Mitt Romney," you tell yourself. But then Hannity reveals who it actually is. Beaming like a proud papa, Hannity reports that the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party is Rick Santorum.

"Whaaaaaat?" you skeptically exclaim to Hannity's punchable face. You lean in as the panel of the fair and balanced network proudly recounts how Santorum took down the Massachusetts favorite.

New Hampshire was an aberration. Rick Santorum's success in Iowa was much more indicative of what was to come. Rick Santorum never played well away from conservative areas, but not too many states' Republicans are as moderate as New Hampshire's.

Santorum's comeback began in receptive South Carolina. On the January 21 primary, he finished in second--behind Romney but ahead of everyone else. Jon Huntsman had withdrawn days earlier and Newt Gingrich's "All or Nothing" strategy failed. Rick Perry finished out of the top 3 and dropped out. Three candidates remained after South Carolina: Romney, Santorum, and no-chance Ron Paul.

Of course, this was exactly what Romney had always feared: all but one conservative candidate drops out, and a massive anti-Romney movement finally coalesces around one candidate. With Santorum's 2nd in South Carolina, Romney's worst fears were realized. Santorum took his far right social conservatism to the south. After South Carolina, there was a huge influx of money for Santorum. He and Romney were in a dead heat in Florida and most other states. Pretty soon, Republicans and political pundits began asking the question, "Why hasn't Romney won yet?" This question fed into Santorum's momentum. Heavyweight conservatives--including evangelical clerics and major southern governors and senators--rally in support of Santorum. Romney conceded by May.

Of course, Romney, at the end of his political career, positioned himself to be the VP choice. When asked who would be his vice-presidential nominee, however, Santorum remarked that, "I've had many conversations with God about this difficult question. I simply cannot find it in my heart to forgive Mitt for his past views on abortion and gay rights. I'm going with Marco Rubio."

And that's how Rick Santorum became the Republican nominee for President.

"Wow," you react upon hearing the story. "I better get back into that hole!" But not before you print out every article of the now overwhelmingly huge Presidential Politics for America blog. After all, you'll need to do some reading as you ride out the apocalypse underneath your rock.

(Editor's note: This was the third in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See you back here for Part IV.)

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