That said, I believe Santorum would lose badly to Obama because of a single issue—abortion.
For the record, I am Pro-Life, and Pro-Life candidates can win presidential elections. America is evenly divided on the issue. But politically, I break the abortion debate into four basic positions:
1. Very Pro-Choice: All abortion is acceptable; even late term and partial-birth.
2. Pro-Choice: Abortion is acceptable up to certain levels of development, but not partial-birth.
3. Pro-Life: Abortion is wrong, but allowable in cases of rape or danger to the mother’s life.
4. Very Pro-Life: All abortion is wrong, even after rape; only exception is danger to mother’s life.
A good, rational case can be made for Position 4, because while rape is horrifying, abortion brings death. And people holding this view rightly cite the hypocrisy of merely jailing the rapist (who committed the crime) while killing the unborn child (who is innocent).
Conversely, those holding Position 3 argue that, while it would be noble for the victim to bring the child to term, she should not be legally forced to do so. They contend that, after enduring a horrifying assault—an assault she never chose—she should not be forced to complete a 9 month pregnancy.
Both sides make fine points. Though I personally hold Position 3, I have great respect for those holding Position 4. I also respect some arguments for Position 2 (though I disagree), while I have no respect for Position 1 (which allows the butchery of Partial Birth Abortion).
So those are four basic positions, with my stance. Now, let’s look at the political implications.
Truth is, assuming their stances are widely known, candidates holding Position 1 will struggle outside far-left districts, while those holding Position 4 do best in far-right districts. I have no hard numbers, but I doubt you would even find 20% support for either 1 or 4 throughout society. Obama, who likely holds Position 1, had to deny it and rely upon a willing press to cover for him, or he would have paid dearly.
Remember Ken Buck? In 2010, he was Colorado’s GOP Senatorial candidate. Honorable and intelligent, he polled well ahead of his Democratic foe on most issues. Considering this race a lock, GOP strategist Dick Morris saw a Senate majority within reach. And I too was confident—at first.
Then it came out that Buck held Position 4. The moment I heard this, I told my wife, “We’ve just lost Colorado. It’s over.” There was no way we could sell Position 4 to most voters. Soon, the phrase, “Buck: Too extreme for Colorado” went viral, and defending him felt like tossing rocks at a tidal wave. Central to this campaign was Buck's position on abortion.
Desperately shifting to economic issues, the Buck campaign still anticipated victory, as fiscal concerns came first with Colorado voters. We Conservatives were assured all would be fine.
But this approach was doomed. It looked like a dodge. People wanted to know, “Would Ken Buck really force a rape victim to go through with the pregnancy?” The more Buck stressed fiscal topics, the more Democrats hit him on abortion (along with a clumsy statement he made about homosexuals). In the end, Buck lost by a solid margin during a nationwide Republican rout. His race was a stunning defeat.
And all this brings me to Rick Santorum.
The night he scored an impressive tie with Romney, Santorum’s Iowa miracle had Liberal pundits giddy with delight. Naturally, Conservatives saw this as an act, geared to choose our candidate for us.
It was understandable. Listening to multiple Conservative talk shows (yes, I’m a Dittohead), I heard hosts and callers alike pronouncing these Leftist celebrations to be contrived; staged by savvy strategists hoping to stop Santorum. To summarize their sentiments: “They’re afraid of a principled conservative! They’re trying to con us into choosing that RINO Romney! Reagan proved conservatism wins, while Dole and McCain proved that Moderates lose! These pundits are trying to trick us!”
I generally share these views, in that I distrust Liberal pundits, and Moderate candidates often provide too little contrast against Democrat opponents. But this time, I think our usually reliable suspicions are misplaced. I really do. Being a former Leftist, I am confident these Liberals weren’t acting at all—in fact, I believe they were restraining their exuberance.
I know all too well the strategy Obama’s billion dollar machine will unleash. Exploiting Position 4, Obama’s surrogates and Leftist PAC’s will put Santorum on defense. Predictably, Santorum will give well-packaged answers on the topic, then divert to Obama’s fiscal record. We’ll hear how the economy is Issue #1 for Americans, and that we have nothing to fear.
But sinking poll numbers will bring a dire realization that we’ve helped Obama. Rejecting Position 4, independent masses will send Santorum—an honorable and intelligent Republican—to likely defeat.
Just like Ken Buck.
For those who disagree, I’ll conclude with a simple challenge: On your next free afternoon, go on a field trip. Leave behind Tea Party meetings, Republican gatherings, church, and conservative friends. Where should you go? Try the mall; catch up on some shopping. Visit a state college. Go to a movie. Or just walk through an office building.
And while surrounded by hundreds of people, ask yourself this question: “How many of these voters think the federal government should force a 15 year old rape victim to carry out the pregnancy?”
After you’ve drawn your conclusion, think strategically—from the other side. “How would opponents use this? Would they play fair? Would they allow us to keep the focus on Obama’s track record? Who would the media help—us, or them?”
After this outing, I trust you’ll see why Iowa left the Democrats salivating. They weren’t trying to con us, ladies and gentlemen.
They just couldn’t believe their good fortune.