Politics & Policy

Five O’Clock Winners: Santorum, Fighting for the Middle Class; Fiorina, Sounding Like a Commander in Chief

Santorum makes his case. (Scott Olson/Getty)

If you ask me who the biggest loser in the undercard debate was, I would say Rick Perry. I suppose I could say George Pataki, for boasting about how he ended corruption and brought reform to New York State (he did?), but who thinks the pro-choice former New York governor really has a shot?

Perry’s main message: Texas is doing well, vote for me. I don’t think it’s a particularly compelling message, because I don’t think this is an election in which running on your record will be the key to victory.

The winners? Fiorina and Santorum, who stood out for different reasons. Rick Santorum has this going for him: He has a distinctive message that he repeatedly turns to: I am the pro-worker candidate. In his response to the opening question, he said, “Rick Santorum: win in Iowa. We didn’t start out four years ago at the top of the heap. We stuck to our message. Americans are tired . . . and looking for someone who is going to fight for them, grow the manufacturing sector of the economy so those without college degrees have a chance to rise.”

When asked whether Americans are too willing to take public assistance, he pivoted immediately: “We have to create better-paying jobs. We have to make America the number-one manufacturing economy in the world.” He pointed out that he helped pass welfare reform and said we should apply the same principles to food stamps and Medicaid: “work requirements and time limits.”

Santorum even wove his blue-collar message into his immigration answers, saying: “Democrats only care about bringing in more votes. Republicans care about bringing in cheap labor to help business, and nobody is standing up for the interests of the American worker.”

He also deftly answered the heart-wrenching question about what he would say to an American-born child whose family might be separated were no pathway to legalization opened up. He began his reply by noting that his father was born in Fascist Italy and had to wait seven years to follow his father here legally. “When I asked my father about it, he said, ‘America is worth the wait.’”

#related#Santorum also pointed out, as I think no other candidate has, that what the Planned Parenthood tapes are showing are partial-birth abortions. (Santorum lead the effort to ban those in the 1990s, though he did not remind the audience of this.)

I don’t agree with Santorum on immigration, but he was the only candidate on that stage who delivered a coherent economic message that is distinctive and focused on the suffering of middle-class workers.

Carly Fiorina seemed to have one clear goal: to appear like a commander-in-chief. I think she succeeded. Out of the box, she said: “Margaret Thatcher was not content to manage a great nation in decline, and neither am I. . . . I know more world leaders than anyone running, with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton.”

And she showed she can go toe to toe with The Donald:

I didn’t get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t given money to the [Clinton] Foundation or donated to his wife’s Senate campaign. Here’s the thing that I would ask Donald Trump in all seriousness. He is the party’s frontrunner, and good for him. I think he’s tapped into an anger that people feel. They’re sick of politics as usual. Whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would be resolved — the political class has failed you. That’s just a fact, and that’s what Donald Trump taps into. I would also just say this — since he has changed his mind on amnesty, on health care, and on abortion — I would just ask, What are the principles by which he will govern?

Good question. And another great performance by Carly Fiorina.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. She blogs at MaggieGallagher.com.

Most Popular

Elections

How Trump Should Approach the Final Debate

The so-called mainstream polls of the swing states show the race narrowing. If the trend continues at the current rate, President Trump could poll even in two weeks—in addition to the “other” polls that show him near there already. So Trump’s mission at the final debate on Thursday is to continue to ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Should Approach the Final Debate

The so-called mainstream polls of the swing states show the race narrowing. If the trend continues at the current rate, President Trump could poll even in two weeks—in addition to the “other” polls that show him near there already. So Trump’s mission at the final debate on Thursday is to continue to ... Read More
Politics & Policy

A Bizarre and Revealing Biden Interview

William Voegeli of the Claremont Review of Books brought up a strange Joe Biden interview from 1974 I hadn't seen before in which Biden emerges as arrogant and determined to make more money, one way or another. Biden also speaks of his first wife Neilia, who had died two years earlier, in unusually frank ways: ... Read More
Politics & Policy

A Bizarre and Revealing Biden Interview

William Voegeli of the Claremont Review of Books brought up a strange Joe Biden interview from 1974 I hadn't seen before in which Biden emerges as arrogant and determined to make more money, one way or another. Biden also speaks of his first wife Neilia, who had died two years earlier, in unusually frank ways: ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Media

The Unseemly Urge to Excuse Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, was suspended from his jobs and subjected to a round of public mockery for visibly exposing himself while masturbating on a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues. The call was designed to role-play post-election scenarios for a contested election; Toobin ... Read More
Media

The Unseemly Urge to Excuse Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, was suspended from his jobs and subjected to a round of public mockery for visibly exposing himself while masturbating on a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues. The call was designed to role-play post-election scenarios for a contested election; Toobin ... Read More