The Great Rick Santorum Circus Finally Concedes Defeat

by Ryan Sanford Smith

At the time of this writing, Rick Santorum is about to suspend his presidential campaign at a press conference in Pennsylvania.

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone–GOP pundits and even remaining presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich have admitted that the inevitability of Romney’s nomination is nearly beyond scrutiny at this point. Santorum’s own campaign had essentially admitted in recent days that the looming primary in Pennsylvania–Santorum’s home state–was a must-win contest and that the admittedly marginal ‘path forward’ fro him required as much. It wasn’t that long ago, though, post-Wisconsin that Santorum uttered his now famous ‘halftime’ comments.

It would seem that a combination of his campaign’s estimates of his legitimate chances in Pennsylvania and possibly a recent minor medical scare with his daughter might have finally caused Santorum to decide now was the most graceful moment to exit. Whatever the stated reasons, they’re more or less moot compared to what I think the feeble support for Santorum evinces about the broader American electorate.

More telling to the more abstract political and cultural climate, though, is just how weak Santorum’s support as been throughout the primary calendar with regards to the larger American audience. Almost all of his coverage can be linked to various controversial statements about the queer community, contraception, and women’s rights in general. Much of the growing conversation about the GOP’s so-called ‘war on women’ is grounded in the Santorum camp’s many platforms.

I think this is warm news and very telling about just how receptive the average American is to the kind of hyper social conservatism Santorum waved the banner for. His biggest weapon against the oily Mitt Romney machine has continued to be his drawing up of himself as a ‘real conservative’ in contrast to Romney’s perceived moderateness. I think it’s a relatively accurate distinction, and as women in particular look to be turning in greater numbers against the GOP in general and Romney in particular, my impression is that Santorum’s claim that ‘the people’ want a real conservative is ringing more and more hollow–it doesn’t even seem they want a sometimes-conservative in Mitt Romney. I think those that want to make the claim that the general American culture is moving in increasingly progressive directions is seeing all the evidence they need to feel justified on days like today.

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