Adam Graham
Letters to conservatives #4: Santorum the steadfast warrior
By Adam Graham
January 27, 2012

Dear Fellow Conservatives,

Having examined, in the last letter, Senator Santorum's proposals, we turn to the issue of Santorum's character and capacity to be president.

The senator made a remarkable case for himself on Monday. Using an absurd question from moderator Brian Williams, Santorum reminded the audience of big-picture issues that separate the candidates in the race. Both Gingrich and Romney had spoke up for Cap and Trade and the Wall Street bailout. Gingrich spent twenty years advocating for an individual mandate, and Romneycare served as a template for Obamacare. Santorum has been right from the beginning on all three vital issues and reminded voters:
    Again, huge, huge differences between my position and where President Obama is, but not so on two major issues. You go down and you look at the Wall Street bailouts, I said before, here's one where you had folks who preach conservativism, private sector, and when push came to shove, they got pushed. They didn't stand tall for the conservative principles that they argued that they were for. And as a result, we ended up with this bailout that has injected government into business like it had never been done before.

    They rejected conservativism when it was hard to stand. It's going to be hard to stand whoever this president is going to be elected. It's going to be tough. There is going to be a mountain of problems. It's going to be easy to be able to bail out and compromise your principles.

    We have gentlemen here on the three issues that got the Tea Party started, that are the base of the conservative movement now in the Republican Party. And there is no difference between President Obama and these two gentlemen. And that's why this election in Florida is so critical, that we have someone that actually can create a contrast between the president and the conservative point of view.
It's worth remembering more than just our angst against Obama, but what has caused the rise of the Tea Party movement, and that is the mass betrayal of conservative values which set the stage for the massive growth of government we've seen in the past four years. We must have a president who will stand firm and not shrink in the face of adversity.

Santorum described himself in another debate, "I'm not the most flamboyant, and I don't get the biggest applause lines here. But I'm steady. I'm solid."

Steady, solid, and steadfast may not be the words that create great excitement, but they are exactly the character traits we need in a president in these times.

Santorum, once he commits to an effort, is relentless in the fight, regardless of the personal cost to him. The typical political advice to a swing-state senator would be to avoid going to bat on social issues, as if to say if God wanted him to speak out on social issues, he would have been elected in Texas.

Santorum didn't come to Washington with the intent of leading the fight against partial birth abortion. When he delivered his first speech on the issue in 1995, it was his first time giving a major speech on abortion. He would spend the next eight years leading that floor fight, often standing alone in the wee hours of the night debating an emotionally difficult issue.

He stood firm for the rights of the unborn and for traditional values, and for it he and his family have been subjected to the vilest attacks from the far left, but yet he stands firm. He has done the same thing on other issues, including Social Security reform where his advocacy of necessary changes has not made him popular with the AARP.

Santorum's experience in standing firm is relevant because that's what we need. Fundamentally, the solutions to our country's problems are not hard to solve. But it's hard to pursue these solutions in the case of a strong headwind. We need a president who can stand firm in the face of savage opposition to pursue the changes that are necessary to preserve our country's economic future.

Santorum is the only candidate in this race with a proven record of political courage.

He's also a straight shooter who doesn't play political games with the truth. Quin Hilyer of National Review wrote, "It strikes me that Rick Santorum is about the most determinedly anti-political top-level politician I've ever witnessed. No matter what state he is debating in, he refuses to find some wiggle room on issues where his position is at odds with a deeply held local position." Rick Santorum is the same person and the same candidate whether he's speaking in Iowa or Florida.

Longtime conservative activist Dennis Mansfield followed Santorum through his rise to power and to his defeat and happened upon him in a lobby of a hotel standing alone and unrecognized, an uncomfortable state for many ego-driven politicians. Mansfield observed, "It did not seem to bother him at all. He looked like a man at peace with himself — not caring if anyone recognized him at all." You can be at a peace, even with a loss, when you have stood firm and fought for what you believed to be right.

Supporters of Speaker Newt Gingrich have championed the idea that the Speaker's greatest strength is his ability as a debater. I will concede that Newt would win the debates on points, but political debate wins on points are not decisive, A.J. Nolte pointed out recently. Alan Keyes won all three of his debates with Barack Obama and was swamped by more than forty points.

We're not electing a debate club champion or America's top talk-show guest, we're electing a president. Having a nominee who will smack down and disrespect the sitting President of the United States on national television is viscerally appealing to conservatives, but it won't help win the election or change the country. It doesn't look presidential to those voters who will pick the president.

In the course of the primary debates, Santorum has been steady, knowledgeable, and principled with no major errors. He's been steady and consistent. He can deliver firm and clear answers and offer Americans a clear choice in the general election.

Mr. Gingrich and many other candidates have taken turns playing the role of the hare in the classic Aesop fable, while Mr. Santorum has been the tortoise, consistent and steady in the face of long odds. I can only hope that real life lives up to the fable.

Of course, no candidate is perfect, and Senator Santorum is no exception. In our next number, we'll examine some of Senator Santorum's negatives.

© Adam Graham


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Adam Graham

Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and in 2004 was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Idaho State House... (more)

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