FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Strange Sticking Power of Rick Santorum

Mitt, money, Christians and rage.  That list just about sums up the deciding factors in the GOP presidential race Super Tuesday, at least in the view of the pundits.

“What is wrong with Romney? He’s just not connecting!”

After an hour of insights like that from MSNBC, CNN and Fox, I headed to bed, even before “more number crunching by our experts” and “How Sarah Palin cast her vote!”

What explains the surprising strength of Rick Santorum in the GOP primary race? While everyone rightly bemoans the power of money in politics, it doesn’t seem to be about the money.  Santorum’s holding steady despite being radically outspent.  In the run up to Super Tuesday, Governor Romney’s side reportedly spent eleven times as much as their opponent on Super PAC attack ads. It’s not democratic, it’s stirring up random rage, but it’s not working all that brilliantly. All that cash, and Romney only won Ohio by a sliver.

The Christians then. On Tuesday night, Michael Moore wasn’t the only one warning of a Santorum crusade. The Christian Right have often been good at running effective ground operations at low cost and there’s no denying the evil aims of Santorum’s anti-pill pals. But the Christian Right is not the political power it once was and Santorum’s machine is not so slick, certainly not in Ohio. There, Santorum’s lot couldn’t even meet the deadlines to register a full slate of delegates across the state. So what oh what, oh what could explain the strange sticking power of Rick Santorum?

As they exited polling stations across Ohio, more than half of all voters told pollsters the economy was their biggest concern. Could it be that, just down the road, the shuttered stores on Main Street have something to do with it?

Employment’s up slightly in Ohio this year. Statewide unemployment sits officially at a relatively low 7.7 percent (compared to the national rate.)  But shocks like the ones that hit Ohio, North Dakota and the other Super Tuesday states over the last decade are still very much in evidence. Look back to the last presidential election, and the Democratic candidates were vying for the nomination across a landscape peppered with shuttered factories from Youngstown to Toledo. Ohio lost a chilling 257,600 manufacturing jobs – roughly a quarter of all such jobs — in NAFTA’s wake and the trade pact punched North Dakota farmers in the gut too.

A big part of how Obama gained support in states like these was his pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Although in office, he quickly jettisoned all that talk and signed more, similar pacts.)  Rick Santorum for all his sins, has the advantage of actually having voted against NAFTA.

I know it’s not as ratings-friendly as his position on sex, (and it’s an awkward topic for networks owned by multinational corporations,) but in all those hours of so-called reporting, it would have been interesting to hear the word, even once. Among white voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and across the manufacturing belt,  Santorum has one hell of a stick he could use to beat both Obama and Romney. Whether he’s using it is surely as newsworthy as how Sarah Palin’s voting.  Or is it?

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura. 

More articles by:

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail