Go Big or Go Home
By Steve Deace
The decision by over 100 pro-life/pro-family leaders to endorse Rick Santorum for president after meeting together in Texas was the big news of the weekend, but that vote of confidence will have very little impact on the eventual outcome of the Republican presidential primary unless the group puts its considerable resources behind it.
Beyond their own preference for Santorum for president, if these Christian leaders needed any added incentive to put some capital behind their political capital to make it meaningful, they should understand that from this point forward their long-term political clout is directly tied to Santorum’s presidential bid.
That’s because the Republican Party establishment and the liberal media have a common interest here, and that’s rendering Christian conservatives’ voice in the political process meaningless and ineffective. Both want to discredit Christian virtue and Christian political activism, so both will be watching very carefully to see if this group is able to re-boot Santorum’s stalled momentum in South Carolina and beyond.
Just giving a long-time social conservative like Santorum an ‘atta boy’ helmet sticker won’t be sufficient to move his numbers. These leaders will need to put their considerable resources on the line for the anemically-funded Santorum. They’re now on the primary ballot right along with him in the minds of the Republicrat establishment and the mainstream media.
Unless these leaders go “all in” for Santorum, they could make the division among conservatives even worse, thus making Mitt Romney’s path to the nomination – and the party establishment’s mission to marginalize social issues — even easier.
At a time when the Republican Party leadership is just looking for an excuse to banish Christians to the kids’ table, not being able to move a true social conservative like Santorum in a socially conservative state like South Carolina will give the establishment all the excuse it needs to do just that.
These leaders endorsed someone that has stood for their issues for many years, and now they need to put their money where their mouth is to make the endorsement stick. Otherwise, they’re more likely to hurt Newt Gingrich thereby helping Romney more so than Santorum.
If that is the result of their actions they will get pinged from the party establishment/media on one side for being paper tigers, and conservatives who will feel let down they weighed in to dilute Gingrich’s vote at a time polls show him closing on Romney in South Carolina on the other.
While it is hopeful to see this group of leaders come together in this primary for Santorum after never coming together to help Mike Huckabee four years ago, the calendar is not their friend at this point. The South Carolina primary is Saturday, and the chances of this group creating a successful coalescing behind a “not Romney” candidate would be greater had they acted with more foresight well in advance.
Nevertheless, better late than never, and there are three immediate action steps this group could deploy to show they are serious in supporting Santorum:
1) Put out a joint press release ASAP (like Monday at the latest) calling on Rick Perry to get out of the race. Whether Perry heeds their call or not, that press release would essentially end his campaign regardless. There’s no need for his going nowhere candidacy to be an unnecessary stalking horse for Mittens.
2) No piecemeal, individual endorsements over time but rather a show of force by the group as a whole. I would suggest staging a mass press conference in South Carolina with Santorum no later than Tuesday to send a message that this group is united and serious. This needs to look like a show of force to really move numbers and create momentum.
3) If Ron Paul can raise $6 million in a one day money bomb independent of any mainstream fundraising apparatus, there’s no excuse for Santorum not to have $10-20 million in his campaign coffers by the Florida primary given the combined mailing lists of these pro-life/pro-family groups. If they had everyone on their list send Santorum a one-time gift of just $5 apiece he’d have Romney-like resources overnight. If Santorum is not flushed with cash from this soon the endorsement will look weak/symbolic, and it will only help Willard by stalling any momentum Newt may or may not have to stop him in South Carolina.
Many of these leaders have expressed a desire to me and others not to make the same mistake that was made by not supporting Huckabee in 2008, but if they don’t put their resources behind this Santorum endorsement they’ll make an even bigger mistake in 2012 by self-cannibalizing their own political capital in full view of the party establishment and the mainstream media.
Bottom line: if these leaders are going to wade into the deep side of the pool they better know how to swim. As Margaret Thatcher once famously said on the eve of Operation Desert Storm: “This is no time to get wobbly, George.”
Go big or go home.