By Thomas Scott
On April 10, former Senator Rick Santorum suspended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination amid fears that he would lose the primary in his home state, Pennsylvania.
The end of Santorum’s campaign marks a trend of increased support for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the general election in November. In a letter to his supporters, Santorum stated that “suspending [his] campaign has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to face.”
Even before the conclusion of Santorum’s campaign, it seemed that Romney would win the nomination. For months, right-wing politicians who had initially been slow to endorse Romney have been doing just that. On March 29, Romney was endorsed by junior Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Both Republicans and Democrats have labeled Romney a “fli-flopper.” Conversely, Santorum was acclaimed among Republicans for his resolute social conservative stance.
Santorum’s last name became notorious in 2003, when columnist Dan Savage led gay rights activists to manipulate Google’s search engine in regards to Santorum’s name (a term called “Google bombing”). Santorum’s Google problem overshadowed his campaign and enforced the theory that his social conservatism would alienate moderate swing voters.
However, Santorum and Romney maintain similar records on fiscal issues. In 2006, Santorum endorsed then-Republican Arlen Specter in his bid for Pennsylvania’s second Senate seat. After 44 years as a Repblican, Specter switched to the Democratic Party in 2009.
Specter aided the Democrats in the healthcare reform battle that engulfed Congress for most of a year until the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed. The GOP was incensed by Specter’s perceived betrayal and blamed Santorum for helping it come about—a slight which Romney was all too eager to capitalize on.
Currently, it seems that the tone of the general election has been set toward the center. President Barack Obama is far more moderate than the radical socialist caricature that his opponents have created. Romney enacted a healthcare plan for Massachusetts that’s eerily similar to the “Obamacare” system he recently blasted as a “failure.”
As the presidential election draws closer, Romney is expected to gravitate further toward the center in order to better compete with the president.
However, he faces a voting public that is dubious of his record as an investment banker and who may readily accept the left’s branding of Romney as an inaccessible capitalist. Romney’s $10,000 bet with then-rival Rick Perry has only reinforced such sentiments.
Though Obama has levied sizable campaign funds somewhere in the ballpark of $170 million, the race is far from decided. The economy remains in the throes of a sluggish recovery burdened by mortgage and governmental debt that has in turn put a strain on businesses and individuals across the nation.
If Romney can overcome his plutocratic label, then he might be able to seriously contend with the president.