Is Santorum too Smart?

Oct 29, 2006 10:18am

I was thinking about the Pennsylvania Senate race this weekend, in preparation for our roundtable discussion on Sunday Good Morning America. Having been raised in Philadelphia, I have a particular interest in the face-off between Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA, and state treasurer Bob Casey, Jr.

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Santorum’s in real trouble, and most Republican officials I know are convinced he’s headed for defeat. He’s not polling well in the central part of the state, which he needs to win — it’s the heartland of social conservatives in the state; I believe it was Jim Carville who said of Pennsylvania, "Pittsburgh in the West, Philadelphia in the East and Alabama in between."

Casey — with his pro-NRA, anti-abortion positions, is beating Santorum in the polls in that part of the state, a death knell for any Republican statewide candidacy.

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One dynamic that I find intriguing is the fact that one level this race flip-flops stereotypes. Normally, it is Democrats — Adlai Stevenson, John Kerry — who are hammered for being overly intellectual and therefore unable to communicate effectively with voters. In this race, Santorum seems the intellect, and it’s hindered his ability to get out his message.

He has alluded to Winston Churchill"s "GATHERING STORM" MEMOIR in an attack on Casey not understanding international threats.

He has compared Iraq to J.R.R. Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings," saying THE "EYE OF MORDOR" HAS BEEN DRAWN TO IRAQ,

He has repeatedly grown frustrated with Casey’s constant use of TALKING POINTS — what Democrats approvingly have called Casey’s "message discipline."

He has WRITTEN A BOOK — "It Takes a Family" — which lays out some of his philosophical beliefs that may work in an multi-page expansive argument format but also lend themselves to out-of-context clipping by Democrats.

Santorum might be the brighter man, but his intellectualization seems to have gotten in the way of the messages he’s tried to deliver….

It’s interesting to hear Republicans complain that Santorum’s going to lose even though he’s smarter — as MICHAEL LEDEEN DOES HERE AT THE NATIONAL REVIEW’S CORNER. Those are usually the gripes coming from Democrats…

– jt

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