As predicted, Rick Santorum is treating reports of his demise as premature. While my Republican friends, like Ed, may be taking a vow never to mention his name again, Santorum soldiers on with a strategy: Win Pennsylvania, win Texas, turn the race upside down.
Santorum’s strategy seems more a function of a toxic mix of caffeine, no sleep, animosity toward Mitt Romney and an inflated sense of personal mission rather than rational thought. If Santorum were thinking clearly, he would be deciding on what course gives him the greatest leverage for 2012 and beyond. Right now, depending on how the Republican convention rules are written, Santorum probably has the juice to force certain platform positions to a vote that reflect his conservative social agenda. He most definitely will get a prime speaking role and will have consulted on the vice presidential nominee. All these considerations would enhance his stature.
But if he loses Pennsylvania, then that leverage doesn’t disappear, but weakens. Losing his home state is likely at this point. Santorum not only lost it badly in 2006, but his ties to it have been weakened by his decision to live in Washington and be a lobbyist. Moreover, while the state has pockets of social conservatives, they are more like traditional pro-life voters than the new-wave evangelical voters who have fueled Santorum so far.
So Rick faces a decision, and soon. The longer he waits, the harder it gets to back down. Getting out now is the wisest course.