Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Join a Discussion

There are no discussions scheduled today.

Weekly schedule, past shows

The Insiders
Posted at 03:55 PM ET, 02/08/2012

Is Santorum ready for the fire to come his way?

Rick Santorum is about to see the kitchen sink up-close. So far he hasn’t been a threat, so he hasn’t faced much harsh scrutiny, much less the attacks that are about to come his way. His candidacy is for real, and Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney both know it.

While Gingrich thought he could isolate Romney and become his lone real competitor, yesterday’s results, combined with a deflating Gingrich campaign, have allowed Santorum to leapfrog Gingrich as the more viable Romney alternative today.

It’s not in Gingrich’s nature to give up. Attacking Romney hasn’t gotten him to where he thought he would be, but at least he was still in the race. Now he must remove Santorum if he has any viable chance at the nomination. I assume his campaign still has some money, and he still has the power of his own lacerating speech.

Romney has developed a tried-and-true formula for the 2012 primaries: Whenever someone presents themselves as a threat, he blasts them with television rating points. It’s the cynical political equivalent of Colin Powell’s “overwhelming force” battle plan. There is no reason to believe Romney won’t use his well-established attack methods on Santorum.

Unfortunately for Santorum, much of what we will learn in the next couple of weeks will appear new — contracts with clients in Washington, his routine dialogue with K Street while he was in the Senate, his particularly vocal anti-gay positions and the reasons for his 17-point reelection defeat in 2006 that amounted to being summarily fired by the voters in his home state. 

But Santorum is not naive. He’s been around the big leagues for a long time. So he will do the best he can to be ready. He won’t be defenseless, and he won’t be shy about delivering a counterpunch. The only 2012 participant who’s going to enjoy the coming exchange of fire will be Obama.

By  |  03:55 PM ET, 02/08/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company