Rick Santorum seems to be the top contender to Mitt Romney in the current race for the Republican nomination. Gingrich is, thankfully, without a prayer in this race, and I certainly wish Ron Paul was doing quite better. But of the two front-runners, only Romney actually has a chance of beating Obama in November.
The reason is quite simple. Mitt Romney is more moderate, by far, than Rick Santorum. Santorum is way, way too far to the right on his political leanings. And as much as Santorum would like to make this campaign more about the current fiscal state of the nation and the coming debt crisis, Obama’s campaign and those supporting it will ensure Santorum’s message is clouded by his far-right social conservatism.
So why not Gingrich? Frankly he has way, way too many skeletons in his closet. As an example, how can Gingrich say he supports traditional marriage when he is currently on his third marriage and has had affairs in the past? And that’s only one example.
Aside from Romney, the only person currently still in the race that is practically untouchable is also someone the Republicans want to shun just as much as the Democrats: Ron Paul. For a long time, people on both sides tried to find something, anything on which they could attack him, and all they could get is some newsletters that were published two decades ago. That’s it. It’s why the media and conservatives jumped on it when they surfaced again.
Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, however, will provide much easier prey for Obama’s campaign.
Now Ron Paul is just as unelectable as Santorum, in my opinion, but definitely not for the same reasons. You see, Ron Paul isn’t afraid to tell the truth on a matter, something that, frankly, scares the living shit out of people. People don’t want to hear what he has to say, even though he is the only candidate who predicted our coming debt crisis decades ago and predicted the recession after the dotcom bubble exploded.
Ideologically, Ron Paul is untouchable. He can keep the argument focused on the economy.
So basically we’re left with Romney and Santorum. Of the two, Romney will withstand attacks by Obama better than Santorum because Romney doesn’t have much that Obama can attack. Romney’s been a bit of a flip-flopper, but what politician hasn’t? (Umm… Ron Paul.) Romney is a Mormon, something with which ideological Republicans might be uncomfortable, and that might be something Obama can attack as well, along with "RomneyCare".
But Santorum and his far-right, theocratic-style beliefs will be a non-stop treat to Obama and his supporters.
And if The Daily Beast’s John Avlon is correct, a Santorum nomination will end up with a loud thud as millions of independents flee to support Obama or a third party candidate and the GOP is defined by their theocratic nominee.
But as Avlon points out, if Romney is nominated and loses to Obama, they may blame it on the fact that Romney is more moderate and may instead drive the GOP further to the right, which will be their undoing. So basically the only thing right now that can save the GOP, aside from a Ron Paul presidency, is a Mitt Romney presidency. All other outcomes don’t appear to end well for the Republican Party as we currently know it.
Perhaps 2012 will be the wake-up call the Republican Party and hard-right Republicans desperately need.