The EFM Feature
Santorum Romney Finger Pointing

You might think that as EFM’s resident Pennsylvanian, I’d have a lot to say about the presidential candidacy of my former U.S. Senator, Rick Santorum.  I’ve definitely got opinions.  Yet I have been very quiet on here, and by choice.  Many of my friends (including some of my dearest ones) support Sen. Santorum.  I definitely don’t want to attack them, I’d rather not argue with them in the first place, and I did not think Sen. Santorum would last this long.  But he has, people are asking me about him, and this weekend, he is throwing overheated charges at Gov. Romney that do not fit with the graciousness my friends admire in him.  I will still do everything in my power to refrain from viciousness, but I can keep quiet no longer.

The reason I do not support Sen. Santorum is that I adhere to a slightly altered version of William F. Buckley Jr.’s famous maxim that conservatives should support the rightward-most viable candidate.  I agree with that, with the proviso that I have to be able to cast my vote in good conscience.  (For example, that is why I never voted for Sen. Arlen Specter, even when he was technically the rightward-most viable candidate.)  Sen. Santorum does not violate my proviso; he is a good man.  And I have written at length, including in my last post, about how I can and will vote for a Mormon in good conscience.  However, the evidence is clear that when it comes to how he would actually govern, Sen. Santorum is not the rightward-most candidate, and also that he is not viable in November.  Rather, he and Gov. Romney are roughly equally right in terms of governing, and only Gov. Romney is viable in the general election.

On the first point:  Sen. Santorum’s rhetoric is certainly further to the right than Gov. Romney’s.  But if you know anything about politics, you know that rhetoric is one thing and governing is another.  And if you know recent American political history, you know Sen. Santorum did some serious governing, as the third-ranking member of the majority leadership of the U.S. Senate during much of the Bush Administration.  Here is the growth in government spending during those years, according to a working paper from the Mercatus Center:

Sen. Santorum recently noted that politics is a team sport.  Well, that’s his team’s record during his period of greatest influence.  That kind of largesse isn’t the solution the Tea Party is demanding–it’s what gave rise to it in the first place.

Neither Gov. Romney or Sen. Santorum is a “conservative messiah.”  Both used to be pro-choice.  Both have supported bad legislation such as “No Child Left Behind.”  Both have supported health mandates of various kinds.  Both are men, and will disappoint you, as they did me in the finger-pointing episode pictured above.  Both also have strengths (and I find one people in Pennsylvania generally don’t know about is that Gov. Romney fought valiantly in defense of the sanctity of life–including opposing embryonic stem cell research that was then said to be a possible cure for his wife’s MS–and even the religious liberty of Sen. Santorum’s church in extremely hostile Massachusetts).  It’s not a choice between, as Sen. Santorum is saying in Kansas right now, one honest guy and a liar.  If you look at what matters–action, not talk–it’s a choice between two center-right politicians with warts.

As to viability:  This one is even tougher to say, because I know some of the folks working hard on the logistics of the Santorum campaign.  But he just isn’t viable in the general election.  If you concede that Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president in American history, that he’s doing great harm to religious liberty, and that he is stealing from our kids through outrageous spending and borrowing, then you have a moral obligation to support an opponent who can actually defeat his well-funded, well-organized, union-aided juggernaut.  You also can’t beat an incumbent president with the kind of operation that fails to recruit delegates and even get on the ballot in key states like Ohio and Virginia.  When it comes to money and organization, Sen. Santorum is nowhere near President Obama or Gov. Romney, and he won’t be able to get close in the time remaining.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe in a God who does miracles and without whom nothing happens.  He is the one “who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.”  If God so chooses, all Gov. Romney and President Obama’s hard work will win them nothing.  But it’s one thing to construct a campaign that relies on God, and it’s another to have one that cannot succeed absent a complete miracle.  Remember, Noah worked hard to build an ark when God sent the flood, and God himself commands us to be good stewards.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but this conservative Pennsylvania evangelical, this “should-be Santorum supporter,” is convinced:  The Mormon from Massachusetts is the rightward-most viable candidate.  If you’re a fellow evangelical on the conservative side of things, you can–and should–vote for Gov. Romney not just with a clean conscience, but with a feeling of encouragement.  He’s a fallen man who’s made mistakes, just like you and me, but he is our best shot at ensuring our kids will grow up in an America that is still great.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Comments and Discussion

Evangelicals for Mitt provides comments as a way to engage in a public and respectiful discussion about articles and issues. Any comment may be removed by the editors for violating common decency or tempting flames.

18 Responses to Why This PA Guy Doesn’t Pick Rick

  1. RC says:

    Charles, thank you for your candid honesty and insight. Your honesty is truly admired. Your wisdom is coveted. I believe that this election will be either the beginning of a new era in America or it will be the ending of America. It is still amazing to me how ignorant and how uninformed the Republican Electorate is at this time. This election is the “YEAR” for our number one priority and that is the Economy, not social issues. Social issues will be for another election cycle, but not for this one. Thanks, Charles.

    • PW says:

      Thank you, RC. Your points are right on. I am a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and believe Mitt Romney is the best man for the job at hand, AND CAN DEFEAT Obama.

      I get very frustrated at the lies the Senator is throwing out just to get nominate. It is very sad.

      • ccr says:

        I, too, get very frustrated at the continual lies and slams by Santorum directed at Romney. It truly is unbecoming of “the true Christian in the race” and anyone wanting to be the POTUS. The dishonesty and ‘slams’ are something we ALREADY have in the WH>

        I have trouble in seeing how Santorum is a “true conservative” when voted to raise debt ceiling 5 x’s, no budget cuts, agagainst Right to Work, for Davis-Bacon, for prescription drugs but poor plan to pay for it, NCLB.

        Yes, Mitt is not perfect either, but he truly has undeniable economic experience Santorum cannot begin to claim.

  2. clb2012now says:

    Wonderful article. I am a Christian Independant. I’ve had a time putting into words “why not Santorum”. What I come up with is that he doesn’t fully consider his words. That he doesn’t think things through fully. Both characteristics I don’t want in the President. I like that Romney is calm, considerate and thoughtful. One of the reasons the press hate him is that he won’t give them “just a moment, Govenor” for a gotcha very often.

    • ccr says:

      Good points. Santorum is not the disciplined, pragmatic, I won’t say almost outrageous things kinda guy that Romney is.

  3. Liz says:

    Ughhh. What a totally un-romantic analysis. I hope you didn’t choose a wife this way. If so, trust me – she feels totally unloved.

  4. Jan says:

    People were so excited to vote for Obama last time they wet their pants. Look what that got us. BHO is big on image and poor on substance. He is breaking our hearts and our country. This time we need to choose a candidate using our heads. I appreciate your logic and wisdom, Charles. Gov. Romney is the intelligent choice to keep this country from falling over a cliff and to become strong again. We’re not choosing a spouse. We are selecting a leader of the free world. Support Romney based on his proven ability to achieve our urgent goals and save our passion for our own personal relationships. Americans have already figured it out and the primaries prove it. Now we have to help Romney beat Obama.

  5. Tony Davis says:

    Nicely put. The leadership experience factor weighs heavily for me. Comparing Romney’s and Santorum’s resumes, I am wondering what voters see in Rick Santorum. Sure, he has been effective a senator, but can he LEAD a large, complex organization?

  6. Hannah Rebekah says:

    Sad that it’s always about Romney being a ‘Mormon’ as though it is beneath an Evangelical to vote for one. Its a sad state of affairs that American is in when Obama is accused of being at war on religion yet the Evangelicals get a pass. How come they get a pass on their war on religion…the Mormon religion? Too bad they are too prideful to see Mormons as Americans. Its that same mind set that got Mormons run out of several states and an extermination order where it was lawful to kill a Mormon. You Evangelicals should be ashamed of yourselves, and you claim you are Christians. Sorry…but I’m not seeing it. Christian is how you live your life in loving and honoring God and the second is how you love others. Sorry….I’m just not feeling the love.

    • Brandon from NJ says:

      Hannah, as someone from the United Methodist Church, the real people who do engage in prejudice are those who don’t get a clue as to the real problems going on in today’s world, such as perpetual civil war and malaria in Africa, or the fact that there is easily plenty of issues in terms of the financial stability. Among the biggest essentials John Wesley had as a religious leader was the fact that charity is something that unites, and something which is essential in today’s world. I don’t agree with your religion, I respectfully disagree, as a matter of fact. However, with the real problems as they are in today’s world, I welcome whomever wishes to join my church’s projects to go ahead and join, and I am thankful for the people of all faiths who volunteer and join in group efforts with the UMC to make plenty of efforts possible, if not to exceed expectations. I am aware of all the denominational division in America and worldwide, but then again, if someone realizes the genuine need for charity in today’s world, plenty other issues take a back seat. I feel that God is fully capable of looking on anyone’s genuine intentions, as to what they made of his good grace, as well as ultimately that God will sort out our disagreements. Up until then, however, it’s up to us to find unity in charity, or fall apart over genuinely trivial matters in comparison. Getting back to the United States, we’re stuck in some rediculous slug-fest where we have plenty of candidates whine so bad it really disappoints me. I mean seriously, if I as an employer hired over professed beliefs rather than recorded actions, I would be on the road to a failing business. I would rather have a guy like Romney, where as Charles Mitchell says, “wouldn’t be romantic”, than someone who can just profess conservativism and win me over with a finger snap.

      Again, among the most amazing things I would argue for Romney is his work in reorganizing and preventing the collapse of the 2002 Olympics in the face of a serious bribery scandal. He didn’t just do Salt Lake City a favor, he didn’t just do Utah a favor, he did the United States a favor, and he represented what’s good about America, to the world. Remember that, especially considering the fact that the United States doesn’t always get to host the Olympics too.

      • Jason in Ohio says:

        Not to digress from this conversation, but while reading these postings, I thought of a great coincidence. You talked about community projects that the United Methodist Church does, and I know of at least one Mormon who will shortly start working with the local United Methodist Church in the local community projects here. Just thought you’d like to know that!

        • Brandon from NJ says:

          Sure thing, as I said before, all sorts of volunteers are welcome. Hope the Ohio project goes well.

  7. Keiji says:

    I think something that was very important to state that you did is that speaking with more conservative rhetoric doesn’t necessarily make one more conservative. You pointed out that on conservative governing, Santorum and Romney are basically the same. And who can argue if they are the same then put in the one who can beat Pres. Obama.

  8. Randy Ivy says:

    I am an evangelical Pastor in conservative Ms. We vote tomorrow. I hope we will put an end to all of this bickering and vote for Mitt. It is hard to believe someone like Santorum could win nationally, when he lost his home state in a landslide.

  9. mary hicks says:

    I would like to have a president that truly loves the United States and will defend our constituttion as the oath of office promises. We have a man in office who would rather be a dictator than a president. Help save our country. If we do not get the right person in office this time, we will not be able to recognize our country at the end of the next presidental term.
    I want my country back. I want state rights to again be protectec by the constitution. I want a president who is a true American. Since when has a president sued one of the states.?
    Why is he allowed to do so many things without the approval of Congress?
    Please fellow Americans, save our country.

  10. Pingback: How Can an Evangelical Vote for a Mormon? | Mitt Romney - Mormon

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