Tuesday 6 December 2016

Tim Stanley: God and jobs ... the prefect ticket for blind-sider Rick Santorum.

Published 04/01/2012 | 12:54

WE knew it was over when it was tweeted that Mitt Romney’s people were carrying crates of beer into the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Mitt himself won’t imbibe – he’s a good Mormon. But we can expect some well-earned hangovers among his jubilant staff.

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Not that Romney should celebrate too soon. He won with only 25pc of the vote in a heavily divided field. Seventy-five per cent of Iowans rejected a man that many commentators consider to be the only electable Republican in the running. In contrast, the conservative movement has a new star: former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Santorum’s second place was so close that I emailed my editor at 7am to tell him he had won. Nine minutes later, Romney was the victor. On the basis of how messed up this election has been, I’ve decided to stop making predictions until at least two months after each vote has happened.

How did Santorum do it? Partly by bringing out a lot of religious conservatives, particularly evangelicals; Santorum made his pro-life credentials a big part of his pitch. But he also spoke about industrial decline and the need to create new jobs in the old manufacturing base. Put the themes of religion and economics together and you have the classic conservative populist alliance: God and jobs. It worked for Pat Buchanan in 1996 and Mike Huckabee in 2008. Think of it as a Tea Party for the born again. On top of this, Santorum got some good momentum out of what is happening in the Strait of Hormuz. Santorum has been bashing Iran all year, telling everyone that he’s the biggest neoconservative in town. His bluster contrasted well with libertarian candidate Ron Paul’s antiwar rhetoric.

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