For over two years, Rick Santorum has traveled the country making the case why he should be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. For two years, he has made the argument that the only way to defeat President Obama is to nominate a candidate who provides a sharp contrast to the president on the major issues that have dominated the debate since the President took office – healthcare reform and government bailouts.
Today, Rick Santorum finds himself in a firestorm because he used a rhetorical device that insinuated the country would be better off electing President Obama to a second term, than it would be with former Governor Romney. This has caused many to flock to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to castigate Santorum for basically making a point that he and the other candidates in the race have been making all along.
Santorum was really not saying anything all that different than he’s said everyday for the last twelve months when he stated, “You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future.”
The difference is that there is a growing appetite for the Republican nominating process to come to a conclusion. The difference is that Santorum was a littler more direct in his remarks yesterday than he has been in the past. It’s also doubtful that this is the first time a candidate in a primary is no different from the candidate that winner will ultimately face in the general election.
While people may not like the point that Santorum was making, it does have some validity.
Is a governor who signed into law a government mandated healthcare law in his state all that different from a president who signed into law a national healthcare mandate?
Is a governor who signed who initially supported the Wall Street bailout, and reaffirmed his support of it just two days ago, any different from a president who voted for the Wall Street bailout and who has been supporting other government bailouts?
Those healthcare and government bailouts of private industries are only two issues, but they are the fundamental issues of not only this election, but the future direction of our country. The reason why they are so critical is not the political ramifications that they will have on the 2012 general election, it’s because a candidate’s position on those two issues tells you whether they really believe in the free market or not.
The question that Santorum is presenting is simply, is a Republican candidate who doesn’t believe in the free market any better than a Democrat candidate that who doesn’t believe in the free market? As a conservative, the only answer that I can come to is no.
It’s not Rick Santorum’s fault that Mitt Romney has failed to defend his support of TARP and government mandated healthcare in this campaign. It is not Rick Santorum’s fault that Mitt Romney refuses to say anything more about Obamacare other than just that he will repeal it. Had Romney used the primary to explain his past positions rather than simply run a negative campaign, maybe things would be different.
It’s Mitt Romney who needs to make the case why he’s a better option than President Obama, but he has refused to do so on the fundamental issues of this race. That’s not Santorum’s fault.