Political Animal


April 10, 2012 2:45 PM Santorum Folds

By Ed Kilgore

As he just announced, Rick Santorum is “suspending” his presidential campaign, which is pol-speak for folding. He didn’t attribute it to his daughter’s illness, and also didn’t come right out and say he had been beaten. But he was, certaintly by the time he lost Ohio, and perhaps earlier—say, when Foster Friess proved unable or unwilling to give his Super-PAC twenty or thirty million bucks to achieve parity with the Mitt Machine.

It has to be frustrating to Team Santorum that he fell just short of making it to the oasis of May primaries in southern and Great Plains states that might have given him some late wins and even perhaps some leverage with Romney going into the convention, the general election campaign, and a hypothetical Romney administration—not to mention some 2016 street cred if there is no Romney administration. It’s also entirely possible, of course, that if Santorum had hung in there until April 24, he would have gotten waxed in Pennsylvania, which might have made some May Flowers renaissance unlikely, while giving him the prospect of potentially ending his political career with two consecutive rebukes from the home folks.

In any event, this saves Romney and his friends a lot of money, and in theory at least, moves up his timetable for placating his intraparty foes, planning a convention, and getting the etch-a-sketch fired up for the main event.

There will be some what-ifs expressed about Santorum, particularly from those who think he self-destructed by getting a little too theocratic. I’m personally already on record as disagreeing. He danced with the ones that brung him: the people who think legalized abortion is a Holocaust, that same-sex relationships are a sign of moral collapse, that “traditionalist” Catholics and evangelical conservatives represent the only line of resistance against a Satanic takeover of the West, that a Middle Eastern Holy War is America’s destiny. It was enough to make him the winner of the much-contested subprimary to become the Conservative Alternative To Mitt Romney, but not enough to give someone with his many limitations the nomination.

I’ll miss him for the blogging material he so richly supplied, and do wish he had stuck around long enough to provoke a few more Romney gaffes and perhaps Romney defeats. But I’m glad I can go back to wearing sweater vests without fear of misunderstanding.

Now we get to see if Newt Gingrich tries to pretend he’s the last True Conservative Standing, or will just let us all have a break from the Great Republican Race to the Right of 2012.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Dan on April 10, 2012 2:58 PM:

    And now we can call him Ricky again.

  • goterpsgo on April 10, 2012 3:06 PM:

    But think of the comedians...

  • Ron Byers on April 10, 2012 3:16 PM:

    I hope his little daughter does well.

  • boatboy_srq on April 10, 2012 3:16 PM:

    [He didn't] come right out and say he had been beaten. But he was... when Foster Friess proved unable or unwilling to give his Super-PAC twenty or thirty million bucks to achieve parity with the Mitt Machine.

    The 2012 GOP primary is truly a seller's market.

  • Josef K on April 10, 2012 3:17 PM:

    This is kinda sad when you think about it. I mean, I was really hoping he'd make it all the way to the convention, and then self-destruct magnificently on live TV.

    But then I felt the same way when Hermann Cain bowed out.

    Will Newt give us the same level of amusement? Only time will tell.

  • schtick on April 10, 2012 3:19 PM:

    No more Google hits?

    crapcha....evaluations efsiti....I'll say.

  • T2 on April 10, 2012 3:26 PM:

    right on Dan! Ricky is a loser and was destined to fail in his "home" state - which already drummed him out of Congress by an overwhelming margin. So he bails, and here's hoping this is the last we'll ever hear from this sanctimonious little creep.
    I'll wager Newt and Calistabot are weighing their options right now....another cruise and Tiffiany's spree or one last grab at the brass ring as The Only True Conservative in the World Who is also the World's Most Intelligent Human. But Mitt Romney is now the nominee of the Republican Party and will insert new batteries into his robot brain and go forth to slay the Muslim Nazi Socialist. If you think you've heard all the GOP lies possible, you've got another thing coming, I'm afraid.

  • anon's honey on April 10, 2012 4:03 PM:

    Am sure he bailed to avoid embarassing moments in Pennsylvania where he is known all too well...he remains unpopular here, even with the right wing rags. Just too many years of what he represented on K Street.
    Not ready to launch anywhere.
    Mitt will begrudgingly be accepted in Pennsyltuckey.


  • jhm on April 11, 2012 6:56 AM:

    What exactly did he mean with the "we'll keep fighting" line? It's in all the reports, but the context of the speech is absent, so I can't even tell if he explained the remark (and I'm not going to listen to the whole thing myself).