Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

Right Turn
Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 12/09/2011

Santorum snags an Iowa endorsement

Rick Santorum’s campaign put out a statement today:

Senator Santorum said: “I am honored to receive Secretary of State Schultz’s endorsement today. Matt is a rising conservative star, not just in Iowa but for the entire nation. Matt built his own campaign for Secretary of State through grassroots campaigning and exciting activists – not through TV ads and occasional rallies in Des Moines. Matt went door-to-door, coffee shop to coffee shop and won over the people of Iowa. I learned from Matt Schultz how Iowa campaigns are run, and I am thrilled to have his vote of confidence today. I am excited to work with Matt over the next month as we execute our plan to win the Iowa caucuses

Schultz, a Mormon, supported Mitt Romney in 2008. The Santorum campaign told me last night other endorsements will be rolled out in the next few days.

This is a good get for the Santorum team. He needs to get some traction and the endorsement itself and the press associated with it will help him in the weeks running up to the caucuses. His biggest problem is the assumption by some (and fanned by the media) that he can’t win. If you believe that, you’re not going to “waste” your caucus vote. But of course, the trick is in convincing voters that you are in fact viable. Schultz helps in that regard.

Tim Albrecht, the communications director for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) was impressed. He told me, “For Santorum it’s a great get. [Schultz] will be the only statewide elected official to endorse this cycle.”

Craig Robinson of the Iowa Republican had a similar take. He emailed: “I think it’s significant for a couple of reasons. First, Schultz may be the highest elected official in Iowa to endorse this cycle. He’s also an elected official who is tight with grassroots conservatives. Secondly, Schultz was a big backer of Romney in 2008. Many claim that Romney’s Mormon faith hurts him in a state like Iowa, but that wasn’t the case for Schultz who’s also Mormon.”

Certainly, the Romney camp would have liked to have gotten the nod this time. But Santorum’s get is also Newt Gingrich’s loss, so Romney and all the other competitors are no doubt relieved Gingrich didn’t get the nod.

It is interesting that Christian conservative leaders and other prominent figures haven’t gotten on the Gingrich bandwagon. In Robinson’s view, there may be some trepidation about coming out for a candidate whose personality and past just are now undergoing scrutiny. “Unlike when [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry, [Rep. Michele] Bachmann, and [Herman]Cain soared to the top of the polls, Gingrich’s opponents are pummeling him through paid media.” In particular, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) is out with some sharply negative ads. Robinson added, “I also don’t understand why Gingrich isn’t in Iowa campaigning. He would have a greater ability to defend himself if he was standing taking questions at an Iowa town hall meeting in front of the media. The best place for Gingrich to be during this barrage against him is directly in front of the voters.”

Well, unless those voters are going to ask impertinent questions. Endorsements, like the caucus process itself, are a risky proposition for the endorser. You’re putting your own credibility and integrity on the line by publicly vouching for the candidate of your choice You want to make sure you’re not going to live to regret it. Santorum may not finish first, but Schultz and other Iowans figure they can be proud to support him. Voters generally want to feel good about their vote (especially if everyone knows whom they are supporting). Santorum has given Iowa conservatives no reason to feel sheepish about giving him their vote. In a field of highly flawed candidates, that’s not something his opponents can all say.

By  |  03:02 PM ET, 12/09/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company