Santorum's Support Goes Beyond Social Conservatives, Strategist Says | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Santorum's Support Goes Beyond Social Conservatives, Strategist Says

Rick Santorum surprised the Republican presidential field again this week, chalking up victories against front-runner Mitt Romney in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Very few pundits would have predicted six months ago that the former Pennsylvania senator would still be a contender this late into the primary season. So what's his secret and can he keep it up?

To get some of those answers, NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke with Santorum strategist John Brabender on Friday's Morning Edition.

"This race is much, much more wide open than people have realized," Brabender said. "Republican primary voters generally want to vote for a candidate that they believe is conservative and the senator has a record, a long record ... and they trust it."

Brabender went on to say that "this is signaling a concern, an uneasiness about whether Mitt Romney really has the conservative credentials to be the Republican nominee."

Although Romney has a much larger campaign war chest than Santorum, Brabender said that was not a good rationale for his candidacy. "Mitt Romney certainly spent a lot more money than we did," he said, joking that Romney should have a campaign bumpersticker: "Mitt Romney for president because we have more money than you."

How did Santorum manage to get his message out with scarce resources, Inskeep asked?

The campaign relied on getting its message out "neighbor to neighbor" and having the candidate show up in the states where this week's caucuses were held, Bradender said. They also did some advertising. "I also think the debates mattered," he said. "It isn't going to be just who runs the most negative ads who gets the nomination for president."

Christian conservative leaders — who endorsed Santorum in Texas earlier this year — certainly helped, Brabender acknowledged. But they alone didn't account for victories like Santorum's win in Missouri, where he won every single county and won by 30 points over Romney, Brabender said.

"You don't win a state that dramatically by just concentrating on one coalition," he said. Santorum also drew support from Tea Party voters and some mainstream Republicans. "The only way you can win by that margin is to put all those coalitions together," he said.

That doesn't mean Santorum isn't happy to have social conservatives fueling his recent rise: He's expected to receive an enthusiastic welcome at the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference when he addresses the crowd on Friday.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

What's A Writer Gotta Do To Get A Little Health Care Around Here?

When you're making plans to become a famous author, just remember that you're going to want health care — especially when 40 rolls around and your body is no longer made of rubber.
NPR

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

One in 10 packaged foods still contains trans fats, according to a new study. The problematic oils give foods a rich taste and texture and extend shelf life, but have been linked to heart disease.
WAMU 88.5

Testimony Wraps In McDonnell Trial, Closing Arguments Expected Friday

Leaving the courthouse this afternoon, the former Virginia governor said he was confident in his legal team's defense: "We've got three of the best law firms in the country that are working on this case."
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.