Wednesday 28 June 2017

Tim Stanley: Why Rick Santorum is the Rocky Balboa of this race to the White House

SYLVESTER Stallone likes Rick Santorum. He gave his 1994 Senate campaign $1,000 (for the record, he gave $1,000 to Joe Biden, too). Perhaps the mumbling thespian sees something of himself in the Rickster? Both are Italian-Americans, both have worked hard to get where they are. Both are muscular conservatives (one literally, the other more intellectually). Both have played working class heroes. In the latest installment of the Rocky Balboa series, Stallone portrays Rocky as a post-9-11 dropout, living in a post-industrial Hell. Yet, Rocky steps the ring with a younger boxer and matches him blow for blow, round for round. He doesn’t win, but the bloodied old boy leaves the ring with his head held high to the chant of "Rock-y! Rock-y! Rock-y!" That right hook spoke for an entire generation of angry Americans.

Santorum finds himself in a similar underdog role, and there’s as much history resting on his shoulders as there is on Balboa’s. Following his photo-finish in Iowa, Conservatives have to reassess Santorum and decide whether or not he’s going to be a one hit wonder. They face a difficult choice. Rick has plenty of momentum but little money and manpower, making it difficult to win big states later on. But if Right-wingers abandon this newborn frontrunner for Gingrich or Perry, they could split the field and let Romney win by default. No wonder then that a group of social conservatives gathered in Texas yesterday “to unite and to come to a consensus on which Republican presidential candidate or candidates to support”. They need to make their minds up soon.



The factors against Santorum emerging as that consensus candidate aren’t limited to his campaign poverty. For starters, if you Google his name you come up with an obscenity invented by gay rights advocates in revenge for Santorum’s pro-family agenda. In many ways, this filthy neologism is a badge of honour, for it testifies as to how much the candidate gets under liberals’ skin. On the other hand, it’s a sore reminder of how Santorum more often divides than he unites. His conservatism has a rough edge that would alienate many moderate and independent voters were he nominated. He has opined that, “The political base of the Democratic Party is single mothers running households that look to the government for help,” and said, “What we should be teaching are the problems and holes and I think there are legitimate problems and holes in the theory of evolution.” Rick also believes that, “There are no Palestinians” and that the theory of manmade climate change is “patently absurd”. Where other candidates fear to tread, Santorum goes in with fists of steel.

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