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Conservative Darkhorse Rick Santorum Gains Support For VP

When CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie asked CHQ readers to help crowd source a running mate for Donald Trump we were already thinking that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum would make a good prospect, and now National Review’s editor Rich Lowry has weighed-in to add his voice in support of Rick SantorumSantorum. 

As Rich put it:

…Santorum could make for a darkhorse Trump VP pick–Pennsylvania roots when the Keystone State is shaping up to be a must-win for Trump; impeccable conservative and especially social-conservative credentials; a long-standing interest in the GOP cultivating the working class; an able communicator. He certainly makes more sense than a few of the sitting senators who are usually mentioned, especially Bob Corker and John Thune. 

In one short paragraph Lowry summarizes the most important reasons that we think Rick Santorum makes a better prospect than some of the 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 that 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, putting him 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 and after Rubio suspended his campaign Santorum readily endorsed Trump and said he would campaign with him and for him. 

Perhaps most importantly, 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.   Click here to vote in our final pre-convention VP poll.

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. 

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; “could be viewed as somebody who could be president." 

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 us) 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. The fact that he reinforces Trump in that regard is not necessarily a positive thing, but Santorum’s understanding of the Constitution and its provisions regarding life are second to none, so, like Trump we count him as educable, if not yet fully converted, on the constitutional limits on executive power. 

The bottom line is, to our 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 remains our conservative dark horse who should be on Donald Trump’s short list.  Click here to vote in our final pre-convention VP poll.

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Santorum a natural born Citizen?


Santorum is a fiscal & social

Santorum is a fiscal & social conservative! He is the person who pushed welfare reform through! He even got the override of two Clinton vetoes. Welfare reform put tons of people back to work. This helped to cut our welfare rolls & people were working & paying into the system again. He also voted against NAFTA, seeing the problems ahead of time, and is experienced working with the House & the Senate! He lost one election in PA, but WON FOUR OF THEM! He won twice in the House & twice in the Senate. (In 2000 the Clinton's even worked hard to defeat him with their team & he WON!) 2006 was a bad year for ALL Republicans! Those who think he has no intellect or that he is not a great speaker are in the minority. I have seen thousands show up for his speeches & the man always receives standing ovations when he is done speaking. He was immediately put in charge of things when he entered the Senate & was the third ranking Republican Senator!

Santorum is not a real conservative

Rick Santorum would be an awful choice. He has limited popularity in PA, losing his last run by double digits. A tough year for Republicans to be sure, but not a whole lot of people in my corner (Northeast) of PA have any great interest in seeing Santorum on the ticket. He's not a great speaker or intellect.

Even more important is that Santorum is a big spender. He's not a fiscal conservative. Sure, he's a social conservative and might make the anti-abortion crowd happy, but he wouldn't do much for the rest of the base and wouldn't draw cross-over votes either. He did well in 2012 only because he was running in a weak field and was basically one of the last non-Romney people left after the others crashed and burned, but most of his votes were anti-Romney, not pro-Santorum. Sessions, Gingrich and Pence (not necessarily in that order) would all be good choices. I don't know enough about Gen. Flynn, though if he's a Democrat, he's probably not a conservative on spending; he might make a good SecDef though.

Santorum Exceeds Trump's Conservatism

It may have escaped your notice. But, by comparison, when it comes to “real conservatism”, Santorum is an order of magnitude closer to it than Trump, who happens to be this year’s GOP measuring stick. For that matter, Santorum exceeds the conservatism of G.W. Bush.

And when it comes to speechifying, it is difficult to find someone better than Santorum.

It is not clear what is going on with you in North Eastern Pennsylvania, but maybe you should get your water tested for lead.

Santorum, Pence, Flynn

Santorum: Good solid Christian conservative credentials. Could be an asset in putting purple Pennsylvania into play. Has legislative experience. Out of any office for a long time. Could help unite the republican base that is nervous about Trump.

Pence: Good solid Christian conservative credentials. A sitting governor. Indiana will probably go republican no matter what. Has extensive legislative experience. Could help unite the republican base that is nervous about Trump.

Flynn: Solid foreign policy and intel experience. Never been a combat commander of a large force. Never been the victorious general of a winning military campaign. A democrat who is reportedly pro-choice.

I will support the first two without debate. The general might be a smart guy, but as a Trump supporter, I'll be disappointed if he's the selection. But I'll still vote against Clinton.