Last Night

by Rich Lowry

A few quick, belated thoughts about last night:

1) Wow. What an annihilation.

2) Santorum is clearly a better natural politician than Romney. If you gave Romney a car and an adviser or two and asked him to go at it on his own for a year on the campaign trail–based entirely on his instincts and convictions–it probably wouldn’t turn out very well.

 3) But it’s no small thing that Santorum doesn’t have a campaign organization to speak of. This will not just be a problem in the nomination contest going forward, it would be a big problem in a general election. When he had to build a campaign on the fly in 2008, John McCain never really caught up and was completely out-organized by Obama.

4) That said, Santorum is formidable in a way that Newt Gingrich is not. He doesn’t have the same vulnerabilities. People like him. He won’t be as easily destroyed by negative ads, or at least Romney will be at much greater risk of a backlash if he goes nuclear.

 5) If Gingrich weren’t in the race, Santorum would have a very good chance at the nomination. He’d add the South to the Midwest and consolidate the anti-Romney vote.

 6) What does it say about Romney that when he’s not on very favorable ground–New Hampshire and Nevada–he’s only won or nearly won by making the rubble bounce with negative ads?

 7) Let me join Ramesh in condemning the insipid attacks we’re going to see from the Romney campaign on Santorum as a Washington insider. If Romney is so horrified by politicians running for federal office and attempting to move federal policy in the right direction, he never should have run for senate in 1994.

 8) If the Romney campaign is smart, it will interpret last night as a veto on its biography-driven campaign and try to connect with conservatives on substance.