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My Conservative Dark Horse GOP VP Nominee: Rick Santorum

When I asked CHQ readers to help me crowd-source a running mate for Donald Trump, I was already thinking that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum would make a good prospect, but I wanted to see if CHQ readers saw the same creative disruption in the selection of Trump’s running mate that Trump wrought on the Rick Santorumpresidential nomination in the primaries. 

I think the answer is YES – and here are my reasons why Rick Santorum should be added to Trump’s short list as an almost perfect match for the criteria expressed by Donald Trump, the CHQ GOP VP poll, and those I developed in the previous columns in this series. 

First, let me cover the most important reasons that I think Rick Santorum makes a better prospect than our other top-vote getters in the CHQ GOP VP poll:

Rick has the national campaign experience and exposure that Senator Jeff Sessions lacks. 

Santorum outlasted Newt to run second to Mitt Romney in the 2012 primaries, and won eleven states with a plurality of the vote, including the swing state of Iowa. He also won North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. 

Senator Santorum developed and maintains a national network of young, politically active, culturally conservative families that are exactly the kind of voters who are struggling with Trump’s decidedly non-conservative cultural history. 

Santorum is an icon among right-to-life and pro-family voters for being a politician, like Sarah Palin, who really lives by pro-life and pro-family values. Therefore, putting him on the ticket would do much to allay the concerns pro-lifers have about Donald Trump’s apparent flip-flops on pro-life issues. 

Finally, although he endorsed Marco Rubio, unlike Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum has no negative history with Donald Trump. After Rubio suspended his campaign, Santorum readily endorsed Trump and said he would campaign with him and for him. 

Next, there was no other candidate on the trail this cycle whose views on trade and job creation more closely match Donald Trump’s than do Rick Santorum’s.  

Santorum’s 2012 campaign in behalf America’s forgotten working families in many ways presaged Trump’s 2016 campaign themes. Santorum knows Trump’s issues on jobs and manufacturing, and won’t have to learn them or explain away a lot of contradictory comments or conflicting policy positions and votes. Aside from Senator Sessions, no one else comes as close to matching Trump’s views on this key issue. 

While Senator Santorum didn’t get much traction with it this cycle, he has a stellar record on national security and national defense issues, especially on Iran. Santorum was the author of the original Iran sanctions regime and is exceptionally well informed on the war Islam has declared on the West. He has the background and brains to help Donald Trump put meat on the policy bones he regularly tosses out. 

Speaking of policy, another area where Santorum has not gotten the credit he deserves is in the policy development field. Santorum was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in 2000, the party's third-ranking leadership position in the Senate and was responsible for helping to formulate and sell Republican policy during the early years of the George W. Bush administration. 

I think even Santorum’s detractors would agree he was effective in that role, and most importantly from my perspective, he helped push the Senate GOP substantially to the Right.  

In addition to serving as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Santorum also founded the Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom, accomplishments that rank with Jim Jordan’s leadership of the Republican Study Committee and founding of the House Freedom Caucus.  

What’s more, the Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom included members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and met monthly to address issues such as the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, tax-exempt status for churches, the CARE act, international religious freedom, and anti-Semitism. 

That’s a pretty good match for Donald Trump’s stated goal of having a vice president who knows Washington and can work with Congress to help sell Trump’s agenda on the Hill. It is also a record of leadership that gives him credibility as president, fulfilling the second half of Donald Trump’s job description for his VP; 

While no one could say that any competitor matches Newt Gingrich’s policy chops, Santorum comes as close as any prospect we’ve discussed and he comes without the baggage that Newt would bring to the ticket. If Donald Trump wants a vice president who knows Congress and can help him sell his program on Capitol Hill, he would be hard-pressed to find a better running mate than Rick Santorum. 

Of course there are some downsides to Santorum as a VP candidate that must be acknowledged. He never got the same kind of traction in 2016 that he had in 2012, and there was a general feeling (shared by me) that Rick had missed his moment in the aftermath of the 2012 election when he sort of fell off the radar for the better part of two years. 

Rick has also not been bashful about calling for and saying he would use strong executive powers, as has Donald Trump. Many conservatives, myself included, were critical of how he did not stand up to President George W. Bush’s expansion of big government and executive power during Rick’s time in the Senate leadership.  The fact that he reinforces Trump in that regard is not necessarily a positive thing. 

Because of Santorum’s time away from the Senate, and how the conservative movement more generally has come around on how the Bush administration’s big-government ways and accretions of executive power were not just wrong, but helped set bad precedent for some of the unconstitutional excesses of the Obama administration, I count him as open to and educable on the constitutional limits on executive power. He would do well, however, to assure constitutional conservatives of his commitment to the proper limitations on executive power and his fidelity to small-government, constitutional principles. 

Most importantly, however, for purposes of preventing what would be a disastrous and ruinous episode for America – a Hillary Clinton presidency following eight years of Barack Obama – Rick Santorum as Trump’s VP selection would unite the establishment wing of the GOP with the conservative movement.  Neither of these two major wings of the Party could claim that Santorum as the VP pick would be a disaster. With all his qualities, he bridges the often-wide gap between the leaders of the GOP establishment and the conservative movement. For Trump, who has given both the conservative movement and the GOP establishment cause for concern, Rick Santorum is almost uniquely suited to help soothe both factions in ways that would help defeat Hillary.  

The bottom line is, to my way of thinking, Rick Santorum would, as no other candidate except Ted Cruz, help Trump complete the circle necessary to build a winning populist – conservative coalition by bringing culturally conservative pro-lifers into the fold. He knows Washington and Capitol Hill and certainly after his strong run in 2012 and his leadership in the Senate “could be viewed as somebody who could be president." 

Putting a candidate on the ticket so clearly identified with the pro-life cultural conservative agenda would do more than merely placate conservatives as the old rules of vice presidential selection would dictate. Rick Santorum is clearly “one of us” a long-time movement conservative, and it is hard to imagine pro-life cultural conservatives not backing a Trump – Santorum ticket. 

Rick Santorum is my conservative dark horse who should be on Donald Trump’s short list. I’ve got a new poll with just the top prospects up, please click the link and tell me whether or not you agree that Rick Santorum should be the conservative dark horse on Donald Trump’s VP short list. 
 
Click here to vote on the top choices in the CHQ 2016 GOP Vice Presidential Straw Poll  

 
Click here for Part one of the series: Does Trump’s VP Short List Include A Conservative Dark Horse? (Part I)

Click here for Part two of the series: Is There A Conservative Dark Horse On Trump’s VP Short List? 
 
Click here for Part three of the series: Is There A Conservative Dark Horse On Trump’s VP Short List? 
 
Click here for Part four of the series: Is There A Conservative Dark Horse On Trump's VP Short List?

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Santorum Endorsed Arlen Specter!

Santorum endorsed Specter when there was an extremely viable conservative, Toomey, running against him. Toomey was supported by almost every conservative and conservative organization. Santorum revealed his character when he chose the establishment RINO candidate over the objection of all his conservative supporters. Rick has been off any list of mine since then.

Santorum would be a terrible choice

I agree with several other commenters here that Rick Santorum would be an awful choice for VP. He didn't exactly wow people here in PA and would do nothing to help the ticket here. He's not a small-government conservative. In truth, of the four people you listed in your poll, he would be my last choice. He's not a great speaker. He's not extremely impressive. And while he might help with the anti-abortion crowd, he would not help with anyone else, and might even hurt. Of the 17 presidential candidates who ran, Santorum was one of my lowest-ranked choices.

I do not know why you think

I do not know why you think we need any specific VP to unite the Conservative base behind Trump. The never Trumpsters are against Trump because of the Glenn Beck Hysterical Delusions Phenomena!

Trump is Pro- Life,Pro- Second Amendment and Pro-constitution! ALL TRUMPS POLICIES ARE VERY CONSERVATIVE, AND ALL HIS SCOTUS PICS ARE PRO-LIFE, PRO- CONSTITUTION AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TRUMP CAN DO FOR AMERICA!

IF YOU HAVE BELIEVED THE GLENN BECK FALSE PROPHESY AND ARE STILL SUFFERING FROM HINTS OF DELUSION AS TO TRUMPS CHRISTIANITY AND DESIRE TO SERVE GOD, WATCH THE TESTIMONY OF THIS PREACHER WHO HAS BEEN CLOSE TO TRUMP AND HIS FAMILY FOR OVER A DECADE! STARTING AT 20:15 THE INTRODUCTION OF PASTOR PAULA WHITE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFw2qecPrNw

Santorum for V.P.- let's hope NOT

With all due respect, you claim that Santorum would unite the establishment and the conservatives. I would not agree with this theory at all.
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Santorum is the ultra conservative, his one and only issue is abortion and that did not sell well to the voters in either of his two attempts at running to President, so just how would that further trump's quest to become the first non traditional candidate?
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Like it or not the Supreme Court has ruled on abortion, it is legal and until the Constitution of the United States of America is Amended making it illegal it will remain so.
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We have bigger problems in our country to address. Whether the American citizens recognize it or not immigration IS the number 1 issue we must deal with. Immigration affects every economical aspect of our country from education, healthcare, crime, jobs, housing, terrorism you name it the issue of immigration will affect it.
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We need to weed out the members of Congress who support amnesty, open borders and the one world government that so many are intent on pushing us into and elect those people who value American citizenship, national sovereignty and our leadership role in the world.
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trump needs to choose someone who fits those values.

Santorum

I like Rick Santorum. I have no real problem if he were the selection. He might help win Pennsylvania. He'd be able to step into the presidency if there were a crisis. He's a capable, intelligent man.

There are some things I don't care for, but Santorum is as good as any others who have been mentioned. I don't like the optics of 2 old white guys. Also, I don't really consider him to be a darkhorse. I consider most of the names floated here to be on most lists.

Rick Santorum as VP

My concern about Rick Santorum is his statement in 2012 about not really being a small government man. In the event, he ran for President, which he would,and be in a much better place than Ted Cruz to capture the nomination, would he be a small, limited government President?

Rick Santorum as VP

Rick Santorum IS a small government man. The absurd attacks against him from libertarians have been some of the most skewed, dishonest bunk I've ever seen.
He is for the proper role of government and has always stood for policies that limit the role of the federal government in favor of most issues being handled at the state and local levels. This is what Rick believes about the proper role of government. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiXZvr6nflo

And unlike the others who ran for president, Santorum put forth a doable, realistic plan to limit executive powers that would prevent anyone like Obama ever again unraveling our Constitution. Who do you know out there who advocated for putting restraints on his own administration? He pledged to reverse Obama's unconstitutional executive orders as well as those from other presidents that have damaged our Republic, and once restoring us back to our Constitutional basis, advocate for the proper mechanisms in place to prevent any president from undoing it again.

Santorum as senator has the distinction as being the most successful government reformer of our time having authored, managed, and led the fight to pass the historic Welfare Reform Act of 1996 that for the first time ever ended a broad based federal entitlement, removing millions off the government doles and back to work. He fought diligently and tenaciously for this beginning just days into his freshman term as senator after writing the legislation during his second term as congressman, got bipartisan support to pass it, and a Democrat president to sign it into law. Unheard of, but he did it and was hailed by his colleagues as "Rookie of the Year."
As for Cruz, he brags on this accomplishment by Republicans but never mentions Santorum and in fact never could have accomplished anything like this because he simply doesn't have the leadership qualities to persuade those across the aisle let alone leaders in his own party to come to his side. He's a one man band. He also was a Bush administration domestic policy adviser who worked extensively on Bush's soft amnesty program and gave high praise to Bush for his NCLB legislation and even justified Bush's spending as necessary after 911, all detailed in a full chapter he wrote in the book "Thank You President Bush." He was nowhere during the TEA Party uprisings in 2009 but 2 years later hitched himself to the popular movement with his focus on the Constitution. The biggest government policy he has advocated for has been his immigration on steroids policies and his advocacy for legal status for the 11 million here illegally. Definitely not small government in my opinion.

Cruz also is on public record calling Trump a lying con man. Trump is on record saying the same about Cruz. No way he'd ever be considered VP. Santorum didn't engage in the ugly foodfight all election and never, ever went personally negative on anyone, just focused on his differences on policy, ideology, and experience. Had the media and RNC not waged a total blackout on him all election he'd be the nominee right now. Trump essentially was allowed to hijack his winning blue collar message and issues as his own and got 24/7 media attention for it.

Santorum would be sure loss

I am a life-long PA Republican, personally a mild cultural conservative but more libertarian politically. I think Santorum would guarantee a loss in November. To win a swing state like PA, you must win the counties surrounding Philadelphia to minimize the huge Democrat win in Philadelphia. To win the suburbs of Philly you must win culturally liberal/ economically conservative suburban soccer moms. Just mention abortion and it is over! These are the swing voters who will decide the winner not just in Philly suburbs but across the nation. We need a legitimate politically experienced economic conservative with minimal ties to social issues. I like Ted Cruz but must admit he would be a hard sell to suburban soccer moms and other swing voters. I want the Republican ticket to win more than I demand a pure cultural conservative on the ticket. We need a squeaky clean VP that will make it difficult for Democrats and their hit squads to wage a negative campaign. Most voters (Democrats and Republicans) are relatively low-info and voting decisions often are influenced by sex, race, and sound-bites, etc. A highly qualified minority/ woman would be an ideal pick for the VP slot. It shouldn't have to be that way, it should be purely the content of your brain & character but in reality it is not. Winning requires reality.

Not Rick!!!

Santorum was a large part the enabler with all that was wrong with George W.

Big government, neo-con interventionist.
I'm from Pa. and got to experience him up close and personal.

I will give credit to his family values, though