Rick Santorum’s surge is surprising for a candidate whose campaign lacks the usual organization fitting of a front-runner. It’s also a bit shocking that he’s been able to capture Republican voters without the typical roll-out of endorsements from elected officials.
Most of Santorum’s endorsements are from conservative leaders who don’t hold office, former candidates for office, and “pro-family” activists who carry weight in some GOP circles. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has brandished a parade of elected officials who support him in his role as the Republican establishment candidate.
Santorum’s less conventional endorsements might have the effect of reinforcing his image as an outsider, not a product of the mainstream GOP that conservatives often malign.
The few endorsements from office holders that Santorum does have include congressmen Tom Marino and Lou Barletta (both from Pennsylvania, Santorum’s home state), a handful of state representatives in Minnesota, a couple of state senators in Colorado, a state rep in Florida, county executives in South Carolina, a Des Moines city councilman, the Iowa secretary of state, and a few New Hampshire state reps.
That might seem like a lot at first glance, but compared with Romney, it’s but a fraction. In a single announcement on Monday, for example, Romney named dozens of supporters in Washington state, and the list included two members of Congress, the secretary of state, eight state senators, 14 state representatives, and a host of council members. That’s not including the former elected officials on the list.
Romney also has racked up more Republicans on Capitol Hill than any other candidate, reflecting both his meticulous planning of his presidential bid and his support in mainstream Washington.
Santorum’s endorsements are scrappier. For example, he can boast the support of “influential conservative activist” David Limbaugh, the brother of talk radio firebrand Rush Limbaugh; “venerable conservative leader” Phyllis Schlafly; “Huckabee grassroots leader” Shelley Ahlersmeyer; and “prominent conservative opinion-maker” Michelle Malkin.
“It’s not about ‘raging against’ some arbitrarily defined GOP ‘machine,’ ” Malkin wrote in her endorsement of Santorum. “For many grass-roots conservatives across the country, Romney and Gingrich are the machine. And at this point in the game, Rick Santorum represents the most conservative candidate still standing who can articulate both fiscal and social conservative values – and live them.”