Is it possible to defeat a Rick?

Rick Santorum - Conservative with almost no faults or faults

Apart from the Catholic faith, there is little evidence of Rick Santorum's Italian roots. Richard John ("Rick") Santorum was born on May 10, 1958 in Winchester, Virginia, the son of a clinical psychologist who immigrated to the United States from Riva del Garda in 1930 at the age of seven. His mother was a nurse and, in turn, had Italian and Irish roots. He took over at school when he was “Hahn”, allegedly because of his hairstyle and his convictions, which were already pronounced at the time.

Santorum began political activity while studying law in Pennsylvania for Republican Senator John Heinz, and made it to the US House of Representatives in 1990 at the age of 32, narrowly defeating a Democrat who had served seven terms in Washington DC . In 1994 Rick Santorum succeeded in moving to the US Senate, where he quickly gained influence despite his status as a newcomer and seemed predestined for a brilliant career, had he not surprisingly lost re-election in 2006 in the predominantly democratic Pennsylvania. It was apparently his undoing that his opponents had succeeded in drawing him as the absent representative of the people who had only stayed in his home state for "perhaps a month" during the year.

After his painful deselection, it became rather quiet around Rick Santorum. He joined a conservative think tank in Washington DC whose goals included fighting Islamic fascism. He worked as a political commentator for the right-wing TV station "Fox News". And he joined a law firm in 2007 and became a member of the executive board of a company that manages hospitals. He also wrote columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Thanks to these activities, the previously often precarious financial situation of the father of seven improved: Santorum earned $ 1.3 million in 2010 and in the first half of the following year.

But in mid-2011, Rick Santorum returned to politics. On June 6, he, who had still voted for Mitt Romney as a Republican candidate in 2008, announced on television that he would run to challenge Barack Obama - not least because he was convinced that his competitors were not conservative enough. "I have no overwhelming desire to become president," he had previously told his supporters: "But I have an overwhelming desire to have another President of the United States." Santorum's candidacy got off to a good start: it won on January 3rd . as was only confirmed in retrospect, with 34 votes ahead of Mitt Romney at the party meetings in Iowa. But in the primary elections after that, the 54-year-old was only ranked under "further ran". And in the numerous television debates among the Republican candidates, he failed to attract attention.

But since February 7, since the party meetings in Colorado and Minnesota and the primary in Missouri, Rick Santorum has been resurrected. Although he has neither the well-oiled election machine nor the financial reserves of Mitt Romney, he has apparently succeeded in convincing, at least for the time being, those conservative voters who are neither in favor of the wooden ex-governor of Massachusetts nor the loud-mouthed Newt Gingrich or the Nerd Ron Paul can warm up. Santorum's victory, contrary to the prognoses, was reminiscent of the often forgotten truism that neither commentators, opinion pollers, political strategists nor established politicians decide elections, but in the end it is still the voters themselves.

Mitt Romney, who enjoys the unreserved support of the party establishment, is still the favorite for the Republican presidential candidacy. The delegates decide on this at the party convention in Tampa (Florida) in August. Of the 1144 delegate votes required for the nomination, 113 are still definitively assigned: 73 for Mitt Romney, 29 for Newt Gingrich, 8 for Ron Paul and 3 for Rick Santorum (30 votes remain independent). The apparent imbalance (why so few votes for Santorum?) Stems from the fact that delegate votes cannot be won in all pre-election decisions. Recently, no delegates have been appointed in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Santorum's renaissance is likely to make it difficult for Romney to emerge as the Republican challenger as soon as he had hoped. The primary campaign will last longer and cost more money and substance than originally thought.

It should also be borne in mind that anyone who attends a party meeting in February or votes in an unimportant area code is likely to be among those who do the hard work for a candidate in the fall presidential election. In the winter and spring of an election year, it is primarily the party base that is active, whose engagement becomes more and more important later in the autumn. Rick Santorum's recent wins should not only have brought more media attention, but also more money. In any case, his Super PAC ("The Red White and Blue Fund") raised a million dollars within 24 hours after February 7th.

The candidate One of Santorum's donors is 71-year-old Foster Friess, a wealthy businessman who shares faith and whose website proclaims that God is “the president of my board of directors”. It is not yet known how much money Friess donated to Santorum. The Wyoming man just jokes, "If my wife finds out how much I've put into the campaign and Santorum doesn't win, you're basically talking about suicide."

In addition to the flow of money, the attacks that Romney's “fighting dogs” will launch in the form of negative advertising on television will also increase. The pack includes 59-year-old Larry McCarthy, who is said to have participated in the 1988 election campaign between Michel Dukakis and George H.W. Bush buried the candidacy of Democrat Dukakis with a single spot. McCarthy's latest victim was Newt Gingrich, whom the advertiser effectively portrayed in clever TV spots as a man with a dubious past (“too much baggage”). Rick Santorum also carries a lot of baggage: his lucrative work as a lobbyist in Washington DC, his closeness to lobbyists when he was a senator, and his radical beliefs about homosexuality, abortion, birth contraception, and the sanctity of marriage.

On the other hand, one thing that speaks for Rick Santorum is that he is arguably the most authentic of all Republican candidates. He is considered to be extremely approachable and sociable, and when he was still sitting in parliament, his employees used to address him not venerably as "Senator", but only as "Boss" or "Rick". According to Michael Sokolove, who portrayed him for the New York Times Magazine in 2005, Santorum is credible in a way that few politicians are. According to Sokolove, the candidate say what he means and mean what he says - what the voters felt. His beliefs are real and he does not change them, however negative the reactions may be.

One of his collaborators once called Santorum "a Catholic missionary who ended up in the Senate". Unlike his main Republican rivals Romney and Gingrich, the ex-Senator also has a strong social streak. “He is personally driven by the will to do good,” says Democrat Bob Kerry of his former colleague: “But that takes money. We don't spend nearly enough money (in the US) on social problems. I don't know what he can achieve within his party, but maybe he can convince the liberals to do more. "

In a lecture to the conservative Heritage Foundation, the Catholic Santorum, who at least used to go to mass almost every day, once presented his religious point of view. The title of the paper: “The Necessity of Truth”. According to Santorum, it is a paradox of American society that it wants to be religious and neutral at the same time: “How is it possible, I ask myself, to believe in God, but at the same time refuse to revolt when his moral code is violated ? How is it possible to believe in God but reject absolute moral principles? ”According to acquaintances, the Republican candidate found his strict faith, not least thanks to the influence of his wife. Karen Garver Santorum, a former nurse and non-practicing lawyer, comes from a family of twelve children. Santorum itself has two siblings, a younger brother and an older sister.

While more people attend church in the United States than anywhere else, more citizens profess than believers, and there are a variety of different faiths. All of this, however, writes Michael Sokolove, leads one to conclude that religious freedom in the United States is almost limitless: “The key to understanding Santorum (and many other religious conservatives) is to recognize that he honestly believes he is defending himself have to. As a believer, he feels attacked, even pressured into the role of victim. So he appears as a defender of unborn life, as a defender of those devout Americans whose voices go unheard, and of those institutions that he sees not only as attacked, but as fragile. "

Just recently, Rick Santorum, who believes neither in evolution nor in global warming, accused President Barack Obama of being “hostile to the faith” during a performance in Texas. The marginalization of faith and the disregard for God-given rights in America boils down to the situation after the French Revolution: “What remains is a government that gives you rights. No unalterable rights remain. What remains is a government that tells you who you are, what to do and when to do it. In France, the guillotine was left at the time. ”According to Santorum, it is not yet that far in America. If, however, Obama's will go, the nation will get on an incline.

For now, however, Rick Santorum has to prove that his recent victories were not just another flash in the pan in the U-shaped Republican election campaign. The next televised debate will take place on February 22nd, followed by primaries in Arizona and Mitt Romney's home state Michigan on February 28th, followed by party meetings on March 3rd in Washington State and on March 6th, Super Tuesday, elect eleven states at the same time. Mitt Romney is hoping for Michigan above all, while Newt Gingrich is figuring out opportunities in his home state of Georgia on March 6th.

At least Rick Santorum's newly motivated campaign team is still laughing. His financier, Foster Friess, told the following joke last Friday at a conservatives meeting at the Marriot in Washington DC: “A conservative, a liberal and a moderator walk into a bar and the barman says, 'Hi, Mitt!” The ballroom laughed and booed at the same time, as undecided as the primary campaign so far.