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Right Turn
Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 11/03/2011

Can Santorum move up?

On Friday in Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will give what his campaign bills as a major policy speech. Noteworthy is his intention to lead off with and stress social issues in contrast to others candidates who have largely stressed the economy. Iowa is where Santorum has his biggest and maybe last chance to make a splash with social conservatives.

The speech will contain 16 policy initiatives including:

●Calling on Congress to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals;

●Advocating for a personhood amendment to the Constitution;

●Calling on Congress to reinstitute the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; and

●Executive orders to reinstitute the Mexico City policy to stop taxpayer funding or promotion of abortion overseas and to repeal Clinton-era Title X family planning regulations.

He also promises to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to restore the separation of Title X family planning from abortion practices and restore a ban on referrals for abortion. Finally, he will pledge to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

Some of this may be a stretch (Who’s going to have jurisdiction over the 9th Circuit? Do we kick out the gay troops who’ve come forward?). Santorum doesn’t much care about that or about the ridicule he’ll receive in the media. In fact, he thrives on it.

Will it be enough to lift him into contention? Tamara Scott, Iowa state chair of Concerned Women for America, told me in a phone interview this morning, “Rick Santorum is right on the social issues.” She praised his debate performances in which he introduced social issues into the fiscal debate. She has no patience for candidates who say “money is more important than the baby in the womb.”

It’s these sorts of voters Santorum will need to corral on caucus night.

And of course Herman Cain’s travails may help Santorum quite a lot. Craig Robinson, an Iowa blogger and conservative insider, e-mailed me: “I think Santorum has the most to gain [from Cain’s troubles]. People like him, he’s just had problems getting people to commit to him. He’s everything that Cain is not. He has an impeccable record that voters can examine, and his family life, something that he’s been stressing more as of late, not only supports his position on the issues, but is inspirational to social conservatives in Iowa.”

Time will tell if he can put all the pieces together. But for Santorum this is the opening to make his run and get into the top tier.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 11/03/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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