Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Santorum Tells S.C. Voters: Pick a Conservative Santorum Tells S.C. Voters: Pick a Conservative

NEXT :
This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member or subscriber? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Tells S.C. Voters: Pick a Conservative

Candidate sees echoes of 1980 GOP primary.

+

Jan. 7th, 2012 - Manchester, NH - Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.(Liz Lynch)

GREENVILLE, S.C. – The literal and figurative cold of New Hampshire melted away for Rick Santorum here on Sunday during a one-day campaign swing through South Carolina, where he was hailed by both supporters and conservative leader Gary Bauer as the heir of Ronald Reagan.

The comparison by Bauer, a 2000 presidential hopeful himself who endorsed Santorum over the weekend, is helpful for the narrative the former Pennsylvania senator hopes to create in South Carolina. Santorum is angling for a repeat of the 1980 Republican primary, where Reagan recovered from a narrow loss in the Iowa caucus to trounce the more moderate George H.W. Bush in the first Southern primary.

 

Accordingly, Santorum warned the more than 100 voters at a Greenville Republican Party fundraiser that they are wholly responsible for delivering a conservative candidate to the party. The moderate to his conservative offering, unsurprisingly, is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is expected to enjoy a double-digit victory in New Hampshire and is also leading polls in South Carolina.

“If South Carolina doesn’t stand up and say `We want a conservative on the ticket,’ ladies and gentlemen, we very well may not have one,” Santorum told the crowd assembled in a Greenville area restaurant.

It was a message that he thought was worth repeating.

 

“It is a turning-point election unlike any other," he continued. "And if South Carolina does not step up and give us that clear contrast, so we will have another 1980 election, where we have a real difference, and as a result a mandate when we win to make the changes that are necessary to bring us back from the brink, then South Carolina will have let America down."

It was followed by a warning: “Do not let that happen.”

Santorum will be making a clear bid for the evangelical voters in the upstate of South Carolina, which includes the Greenville-Spartanburg area. It’s a place where will be competing with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also campaigned here Sunday. But Santorum has much more momentum than Perry, who finished a disappointing fifth in the Iowa caucuses and is polling in single digits in the state. And he has the backing of Bauer to boot.

“The next Ronald Reagan was standing in front of me all this time, and I just hadn’t been paying much attention,” said Bauer of Santorum’s presidential bid when he introduced him Sunday evening.

 

In the process of seeking to establish himself as the candidate to staunchly to the right of Romney, he will face attacks by his opponents that began just before his Iowa success. Among the attackers is Rep. Ron Paul, who has accused Santorum of supporting an individual mandate in health care.

Santorum had only scorn for the attacks, which he found entertaining given that he has also been noted for his staunch conservatism that cost him his final election in Pennsylvania in 2006.

“I have never been accused of not being called a conservative. Ron Paul has called me a liberal. And this comes from a man who is in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party on national security,” he said in response.

At a subsequent tele-town hall meeting before flying back to New Hampshire, Santorum also blasted Paul for receiving earmarks for his district only to vote against spending bills. "That’s hypocrisy," he said.

He also said he wants the tea party movement to "stay as a constitutional conservative movement and avoid the libertarian influences that would make us more isolationist, and forget about the intrinsic values of faith and family which are essentially to conservatism." 

Naureen Khan contributed

Comments
comments powered by Disqus
 
MORE NATIONAL JOURNAL
 
 
 
 
Make your Election Night headquarters.
See more ▲
 
Hide