Can Santorum Dodge Romney’s Mud?

Feb 15 2012 @ 1:20pm

Rick is now attacking Mitt's attacks in a silly new spot:

Ed Kilgore doubts Santorum can pull it off:

He’s still the guy who got waxed by 19 points in his 2006 Senate race; he’s still the social-issues zealot whose presence on the ticket would mobilize pro-choice and gay-rights activists more than anyone this side of Pat Buchanan; and he’s still the one-time would-be Beltway power broker whose intimate connection to ongoing scandals like the K Street Project has barely been mined. Even if Romney can’t go nuclear on him, Democrats can—to the point where the supposedly dominant economic issues of this general election could become secondary for many swing voters. That prospect should put plenty of doubt in the minds of Republican primary voters if Santorum ever appears to have a real shot at winning the nomination.

Steve Kornacki counters:

[T]here’s one key difference between Santorum and the others who’ve vied with Romney for the lead this year: He’s a genuinely competent candidate. Not dazzling, but competent. He’s in line with the party base on just about every key issue, doesn’t have much personal baggage, can think on his feet in debates, and deliver a solid stump speech. This is more than can be said for Gingrich, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. This may be Santorum’s best hope: that the desire of the party base to nominate someone other than Romney is so strong that this basic competency is enough to overcome all of the advantages that Romney still enjoys.

John Cassidy wonders how seriously he should take Santorum:

[W]hat if he really is for real? What if America has turned into such a divided and embittered country that a figure like Santorum can mount a credible bid for not just the nomination but the Presidency? What would that say about us?