I was just chatting with our friend Larry Kudlow, who shared his read of Santorum’s victories (Minnesota and Missouri, as I blog): It’s a referendum on Obamacare and the Department of Health and Human Services mandate. What’s Santorum known for? His “steadfast pro-life defense.” Larry surmises: “A vote for Rick Santorum tonight was the easiest and most immediate voter path to protest Obamacare and Obama’s pro-abortion view.”
I tweeted (@kathrynlopez) something similar. While I’m not a fan of some of the attacks of this week, this win tonight seems like a pretty clear and strong message: Don’t make me pay a fee to follow my conscience. Don’t erode our freedom. Nix the HHS mandate and Obamacare.
In his victory speech just now in Missouri, Senator Santorum said: “Freedom is at stake. We need to be the voice for freedom.” With that positive message, he could have a real opening still.
I asked Jay Cost, author of the forthcoming Spoiled Rotten: The Story of How the Democratic Party Embraced Special Interests, Abandoned the Public Good, and Came to Stand for Everything It Once Opposed, if that opening for Santorum is real: “There is an opening, but a small one. He has three not-insignificant challenges. He has to have a big win tonight; he has to push Gingrich aside as the conservative alternative to Romney; he has to use free media to overcome Romney’s money advantage.”
“The second and third challenges are very substantial,” Jay continues. “Gingrich is not about to sail quietly into the night, and his bombast makes it hard for the media to ignore him. It hurts that the debates have basically stopped. That gets in the way of dethroning Gingrich, as well as overcoming Romney’s money edge.”