Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's Rick Santorum doing?

Does anyone else find it completely strange that Santorum is still in the primary?

He obviously has no hope of winning. He's very probably spending a ton of money to keep himself in the race. And in Nevada, he placed fourth, after Gingrich and even Paul. It's long past the point where any sane man would have taken his money and run.

So what's he doing?

If I were conspiratorially-minded, I'd say that the party leadership had convinced him to stay in the race as a sort of firewall against Gingrich. When Perry quit before South Carolina, most of his voters appeared to flee to Gingrich and helped kick-start the latter candidate's brief spurt of momentum in that state. Romney's margins in the last couple of states have been high, but not so high that Gingrich's backers, along with Santorum's, couldn't move Newt within striking distance. It seems to me that the party bigwigs would absolutely prefer Santorum to stay in the game until a Romney victory became truly inevitable.

So that's the exciting version. The less exciting -- but given that Santorum is a politician with presidential ambitions, far more plausible -- culprit is good, old-fashioned megalomania. Deep down, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, Santorum still thinks he's a contender. After all, he won Iowa! Even if nobody knew it. There's still a chance!

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