Main Street Journal: Online Exclusive: Doc Holliday: Rick Santorum’s Necessary Three Strategies

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Rick Santorum’s Necessary Three Strategies
By: Ed “Doc” Holliday

Former US Senator Rick Santorum decisively won Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado last Tuesday and the Santorum Express is on a roll. In fact Santorum now has more state wins that Mitt Romney has! But Santorum must institute three strategies quickly if he wants a real shot at winning the Republican nomination and the White House. If Rick Santorum was playing football it is as if the quarterback has just handed him the ball and his offensive line had opened a hole with some great blocking. What will Rick do now? His quickness, gut instincts and ability to run fast and smart with agility and grace on the political gridiron are all now being watched by a nation seeking a new leader. Romney’s team has some giant, nasty players ready to gang-tackle Santorum to the ground. Newt’s team does not want the national spotlight to shine on Santorum. Ron Paul will keep trying to appeal to the fans in the stands with his wacky foreign policy theatrics. If Santorum can bust through that defensive line, will he be able to get to the end zone and go to the political Super Bowl to take on President Obama? Three tactics must be put into his political playbook immediately in order to succeed.

First, Rick Santorum must prepare succinct 10-second soundbite answers to the impending negative ads coming his way. Newt was not prepared for the onslaught of negative ads that hit him in Florida. There may never be a better chance for Santorum to show he has wise and ready answers to combat the negative ads. And the ads are coming. I was recently polled by what must have been the Romney machine preparing the ground as if a tractor turning the soil before planting the seeds.

After Santorum’s triple crown victory I received a phone call poll. I live in Mississippi and our primary elections will be March 13. I was asked some general questions like a legitimate poll would ask and then the interviewer began quizzing me about Santorum. His questions slyly started asking how I felt about Santorum supporting a bridge to nowhere, using earmarks for building zoos and a rain forest. I was asked how I would feel if I knew Santorum supported certain forms of illegal immigration and other questions that made Santorum look as if he was a liberal clown instead of a core-value conservative. The attacks most certainly took Santorum’s Congressional votes out of context. Then they asked if would I vote for Santorum today after hearing all these negative things that he had done. Romney’s political machine has mega-dollars and plays hard ball. Santorum better know how to respond, and do it effectively.

Second, Santorum must differentiate himself from Newt Gingrich. Several times Newt has mentioned that Rick Santorum would make his campaign easier if Rick would just drop out. Now Newt is in the weaker position. Buzz talk about a brokered Republican Convention this summer in Tampa has all the pundits sharing their opinions. If Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all stay in the race now we might get to see a brokered convention. Santorum now has more momentum than he has ever had. Now is the time to draw sharp comparisons between himself and Newt. Santorum has to shine in the debates, on the stump and in all television appearances. He must look, act and feel like a winner! Before his wins last Tuesday he sometimes looked like a candidate not completely comfortable in his own skin. But his victory speech afterward with an authentic smile created a winning atmosphere. Rick must keep smiling big because Americans will not elect a president who does not smile easily and often.

The third thing may be the most important thing at this point in the campaign. Rick Santorum must show an astute ability to raise money. In today’s political climate if Santorum cannot show that he can raise the needed funds to run for the presidency, then he might as well pack up his bags now. His friends and supporters must start up super PACs for his candidacy. Before his last week’s victories, multimillionaire Foster Friess had reportedly helped fund a Santorum PAC but nationally, Santorum friends must work fast to join the battle.

Santorum’s new momentum is good for him, but it will also make him the target. I just described the ground game that Romney’s money is already bringing into Mississippi with polling! Santorum does not have the luxury of phone banks preparing the ground attack because at times Romney is outspending Santorum 10 to 1. It’s amazing that Santorum has been able to win four states with very little money as compared to Romney’s campaign expenditures. But Santorum’s efforts have shown an amazing ability to utilize his meager funds to maximize his ability to win. He can turn this into a positive by graphing his ability to make better use of his campaign funds as being a better businessman than Romney. He can point out that Newt’s inability to keep his campaign consistently running on all cylinders is an indication of his ability to run the country.

Santorum’s triple night win has given this Republican run for the presidential nomination another twist. Where it ends, who knows? But one thing we all know for sure, the race is not over. The Beatles’ hit, “The Long and Winding Road,” might become the title for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Mitt Romney may keep finding his campaign getting further and further away from clinching the nomination. And Newt may find his polling numbers dropping as Santorum’s polling numbers increase. If Santorum looks like a winner, acts like a winner and learns how to give succinct sound bites effectively then he just might be able to win this long nomination process. But he must distinguish himself from Newt and raise money on a national scale with fast success.

The plot thickens for the Republican nomination. Who will be the nominee? Stay tuned.

(Ed Holliday is a Mississippi Tea Party activist who also hosts his own program on You can listen to it here.)

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