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N2K Presidential Race: Santorum Versus His Principles N2K Presidential Race: Santorum Versus His Principles

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N2K Presidential Race: Santorum Versus His Principles

Mitt Romney responds to a point made by Rick Santorum during a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.(Jae C. Hong/AP)

February 23, 2012

Rick Santorum flashed some leg last night to the authenticity Doberman that Mitt Romney’s camp has unchained serially since last summer: on Perry and illegal immigration, Gingrich and a whole mess of things – and now Santorum’s fiscal conservatism and past dalliances with former Sen. Arlen Specter.

“I have to admit, I voted for that,” Santorum rued, in confessing that he backed No Child Left Behind. “It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake.”

The attack dog gnaws at “against the principles" flesh, an area in which Santorum is particularly vulnerable, because his entire appeal revolves around authenticity. He’s Rock-Ribbed Rick. Confession of betrayal against same undercuts that image. It would be like if there were grainy footage of Ron Paul strolling a gold bazaar, on the seller’s side of the aisle.

Santorum’s tortured explanation of the cloakroom tactics behind supporting Specter – now Judd Gregg and John McCain have political cover to back conservative judges! – was bad, but not as bad as his admission that political calculation had trumped his conscience. It's the reason many Republicans have embraced him in the face of Romney. Without it ... well, ask Arlen Specter.

Jim O'Sullivan


NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT

Republican Race’s Volatility Is Historic  
[National Journal, 2/23/12] Since the start of 2011, seven different candidates or potential contenders could claim to be the Republican race's front-runner, according to polling from Gallup. National Journal’s Alex Roarty weighs in on the major fluctuations of this presidential cycle.

 

Gingrich AND The Rick Perry Factor NEW!
[RedState, 2/23/12] Erick Erickson offers some uncommon wisdom about the debate: Newt Gingrich was last night's winner. But Santorum's disappointing performance isn't likely to hurt him as much as some might expect.

Rivals Charge Romney and Paul With Collusion
[Talking Points Memo, 2/23/12] With Ron Paul attacking both Gingrich and Santorum and easing up when it comes to Romney (and Romney reciprocating the love), the candidates are now starting to ask what's going on. Santorum complained about it after the debate, and Gingrich-backer Rick Perry called it a “partnership.” For its part, the Romney camp called the complaints “whiny silliness.”

Tag Team Politics NEW!
[National Journal, 2/23/12] Collaborating to bring another candidate down: It's not just for Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, writes National Journal's Tim Alberta.

George W. Bush and Last Night's GOP Debate NEW!
[NBC, 2/23/12] The specter of former President George W. Bush was present during Wednesday's debate, but not as a model GOP leader – rather, the candidates attempted to distance themselves from Bush's policies.

Romney ‘Resolute,’ But Will That Be Good Enough?
[National Journal, 2/22/12] After months of a two-steps-forward, one-step-back campaign, Romney needed to take a flying leap in Wednesday’s debate. But the nationally televised CNN broadcast won’t quell lingering doubts about whether Romney can energize his party’s conservative grassroots, National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes.

What Happens if Mitt Romney Wins Michigan? NEW!
[Washington Post, 2/23/12] Though he wasn't particularly impressive at Wednesday's debate, he didn't have any deal-breaking goofs, and Romney will be campaigning harder than ever to take a win in his hometown. So what would it mean for the GOP race if he pulled it off?

In Debate, Santorum Sounds Like Ultimate Washington Insider
[National Journal, 2/22/12] Over and over again, Santorum came off as a defender of Congress, a champion of earmarks, and a master of legislative minutiae, as NJ’s George Condon writes.

Republican Reality Show Ends With Fuzzy Farewell Episode NEW!
[Fox News, 2/23/12] Fox News' Chris Stirewalt writes that the Arizona GOP debate resembled those specials that follow the finale of reality shows where all the characters get together to chat about the drama that took place between them. It was filled with vapid questions and equally vapid answers, the candidates mugging for the voters in caricaturish fashion.

Santorum and the Specter Endorsement  
[National Journal, 2/23/12] NJ’s Reid Wilson examines Santorum’s 2004 endorsement of former Sen. Arlen Specter’s bid for reelection, a hot topic during last night’s debate.

Perry Still OK With Dropping Out
[The Hill, 2/22/12] Despite the still-unsettled nature of the GOP race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he doesn’t regret dropping out after the first two contests. “I made the right decision,” he said in the spin room after Wednesday's debate. But he did add: “I do think that this race is wide open.”

MONEY AND TAXES 

Report: Debt Will Swell Under Top GOP Hopefuls’ Tax Plans
[Washington Post, 2/23/12] According to an independent analysis of the GOP presidential candidates’ tax proposals, the debt would expand under all but Ron Paul’s tax proposal. The debt would even grow by $7 trillion under Gingrich’s proposal. Only Paul’s proposal would reduce the national debt – by about $2 trillion. Conservative mag National Review praised Romney's tax plan in an editorial today, but noted that it's not perfect because it would grow the deficit and increase the tax burden on families.

Gingrich Travel Reimbursements Draw Scrutiny NEW!
[New York Times, 2/23/12] FEC disclosures reveal Gingrich paid himself over $88,000 in travel reimbursements from campaign funds, according to a New York Times report, even after the FEC warned his campaign that there had been problems with previous filings with respect to travel expenditures.

With Romney Overseeing Audits, Marriott Dodged Tax With Shelter
[Bloomberg, 2/23/12] While serving on the board for Marriott International, Romney also served as chairman of the company's audit committee. During that time, the company “repeatedly utilized complex tax-avoidance maneuvers,” writes Bloomberg, prompting scrutiny from the IRS and, later, a ruling from a federal Appeals Court invalidating the maneuver, which called the scheme “fictitious,” “artificial,” “spectral,” and an “illusion.”  

Romney: A Tax Reform to Restore America's Prosperity
[Wall Street Journal, 2/23/12]  Romney wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today that, as president, he would propose a 20 percent reduction in marginal individual income tax rates and reduce the corporate tax from 35 to 25 percent. He also plans to get rid of the 15 percent capital-gains tax for those earning less than $200,000. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board praised the tax plan. 

A Wealthy Few Pumping Big Bucks into Campaigns
[Associated Press, 2/23/12] More than half of the $60 million collected by the super PACs came from just 24 ultra-wealthy donors, including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg, and the hotel magnate Marriott brothers.

BATTLEGROUND: ARIZONA AND MICHIGAN 

Obama Highlights Auto Bailout in New Michigan Ad
[National Journal, 2/23/12] Less than a week before the Michigan Republican primary, Obama has a new ad up in the Great Lakes State, highlighting his support for the auto bailout and promoting his support for American manufacturing. The spot calls out the GOP candidates for their position on the auto rescue, specifically going after Romney for his now infamous op-ed.

Could the GOP Have a Brokered Convention? NEW!
[Wall Street Journal, 2/23/12] Karl Rove dashes GOP hopes for a brokered convention in a Thursday Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which he argues that the math will prevent a new candidate from entering the fray at the Republican National Convention.

Detroit Free Press Endorses Romney
[Detroit Free Press, 2/23/12] The Detroit Free Press endorsed Romney on Thursday, citing his experience as governor and his work on the 2002 Olympics, but slamming his auto bailout stance and his rightward turn to capture the nomination.

Democrats: Is Rick Santorum for Real? NEW!
[Politico, 2/23/12] The announcement that the Obama campaign would begin focusing partly on Santorum reflects the surprise the Democratic Party feels over the fact that Santorum could be the new front-runner, and in turn, the GOP's nominee.

Romney Trails Santorum in New Michigan Poll 
[National Journal, 2/23/12] Romney trails Santorum, 37 percent to 34 percent, in a new poll of Michigan Republicans. The EPIC-MRA poll for The Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV underscores Romney's fragile position in the state where he was born and raised, and where his father was governor.

GOP Fears Rise Over 2012 Tone, Message
[Politico, 2/23/12] GOP leaders are watching with dismay as the 2012 presidential campaign delves into on social issues like contraception – issues they say are far removed from the everyday concerns of the independent voters Republicans need to beat Barack Obama. 

Mormon Voters Raise Romney’s Advantage in Arizona

[New York Times, 2/22/12] A win in Arizona may not be as symbolically important to Romney as one in Michigan, but the winner of the Grand Canyon State's primary would take all 29 delegates. Nate Silver argues that the Mormon vote in the state – Mormons make up 11 percent of the electorate – gives Romney a 9-point built-in advantage in the state.

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