Rick Santorum builds new coalition

Who can beat Obama? Rick Santorum, the man with staying power
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Rick Santorum benefits from several recent dramatic coalition-building moves. But are they too late for him to win in South Carolina?

Evangelical coalition supports Rick Santorum

On Friday and Saturday (January 13-14), more than 150 conservative evangelical leaders met in Texas to decide on one candidate to back in the Republican Primary. Most evangelical leaders do not trust the current front-runner, Mitt Romney. He once supported abortion “rights,” and famously signed universal health care into law in his State. (Furthermore, his ability to “shovel it on” makes them afraid that he’ll simply say what he needs to say to win election, and renege on it later.)

The candidate of choice of that 150-member conclave: Rick Santorum. (Gary Bauer endorsed him earlier.) But Newt Gingrich still has his supporters, and many of them refused to take the choice as final or binding. (Tim La Haye, of Left Behind fame, endorsed Gingrich on Friday, before the conclave even began.)

Rick Santorum describes his platform

Rick Santorum. Man of substance?

Rick Santorum as the junior Senator from Pennsylvania. Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License

Rick Santorum took time to describe key parts of his platform to James Freeman, who published his impressions in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday. Freeman called Rick Santorum “the supply sider for the working man.” The candidate would drop the corporate income tax on manufacturers (companies that literally “make things”), and cut all other corporate income tax rates by half (to 17.5 percent). When Freeman asked him who a manufacturer would be under his law, he said:

No, we’re not going to have a free-for-all over who is a manufacturer. It’s pretty clear if you’re making products you’re making products and if you’re processing products like if you’re an oil refiner, you’re a processor. . . . You’re making things, as opposed to a lawyer who is not a manufacturer.

He also would cut rates on individual income taxes, and exempt three times as much income for every child in a family. (Today the income tax code exempts a standard amount for each person of any age, and exempts that amount again for a person older than 65 years, or blind.)

Why he would not consider a flat-tax system, with the same rate for all taxpayers, he wouldn’t say.

He also said that he would cut $5 trillion from the federal budget in five years. This is significant because his most notorious rival, Dr. Ron Paul, proposed cutting the budget by $1 trillion in the first year. Presumably that would have the same effect, but faster.

NumbersUSA weighs in

NumbersUSA is the most vocal and active group trying to stop so many people from immigrating, legally or illegally, into the United States. They give several reasons, but all amount to the same thing: the United States has too many people already.

Last night, NumbersUSA released a brand-new “report card” on Rick Santorum. His new grade: A minus, a new high in the “class.” (Michele Bachmann, even before she dropped out, rated only a B minus.) NumbersUSA cited not only things he says on the campaign but also his voting record while he was still a United States Senator.

For the first time in many years, we have a top-contending Presidential candidate who says legal immigration numbers are too high!

NOTE: Geraldo Rivera and other commentators say that Mitt Romney is “the harshest candidate on Mexican illegal immigration,” though his father and grandfather were born in the Mormon colonies of Mexico. The NumbersUSA synoptic chart of candidate ratings suggests that Rivera is wrong about Mitt Romney being so “harsh.” NumbersUSA gives Romney a C plus. Rick Santorum has higher ratings, though his rhetoric has been anything but “harsh.” This might go to show again that deeds and words are not the same.

Too little, too late?

Can Rick Santorum win this Saturday, when South Carolina’s primary takes place? RealClearPolitics has the latest polling on the Republican primary. Rick Santorum polls in third or fourth place, and in a head-to-head against Barack H. Obama, he cannot even stop Obama from getting 50 percent of the vote. (Dick Morris says that “the undecideds break for the challenger.” But that means nothing if the incumbent already has a majority.) Sampling took place before these latest events, so Santorum could make a better showing. But he has very little time to do it in.