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Posted at 01:54 PM ET, 04/04/2012

Halftime for Santorum

Did Rick Santorum sound like a candidate getting ready to announce his exit last night? Not to me. “It’s halftime,” he said.  That is a delusional statement; a little like a German general saying it was halftime in World War 2 after the siege of Stalingrad had failed and the retreat began. But it is an understandable delusion; once again, Mitt Romney out spent him by historic margins with an electorate that accepts Romney as inevitable and Santorum only lost by 5 points in the state that counts.

In the days ahead, there will be an unholy alliance between the media, who want a vacation, and the Republican establishment, who is desperate to end this embarrassment and move on to the president, to choke off Santorum’s last bit of political oxygen. I am not sure whether this pressure will make a difference; in fact, it could make him dig in even more. Santorum hates the media, and, by now, he probably hates the Republican establishment. What does he owe them? What have they ever done for him? Sure, it may be harder for him to get lobbying contracts, but I think Santorum will soon enter that sub-species of politician: the permanent presidential candidate who leverages a living out that status until the next run.

Santorum belongs to the insurgent wing of the Republican Party, which is ascendant now. Romney may prevail in the general election, restoring the more establishment wing of the party, but if he doesn't, watch out for Santorum. He’s running for 2016 now and unlike some commentators who believe that is why he will drop out — to curry favor for the future — I believe Santorum views things differently. If he stays in the race, he builds his organization for the future. And there is always that slim hope that Romney stumbles.

By  |  01:54 PM ET, 04/04/2012

 
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