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Rick Santorum's performance in Iowa a reason for hope
January 4, 2012 - Mike Maneval
There are glimmers of hope in former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's practical tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa Republican caucuses Tuesday, where both men secured the same number of delegates to the party's convention in Florida, where a nominee will be selected.
First, as a U.S. Senator, Santorum showed exemplary and commendable leadership on one issue, and an important one. Despite his freshman status in the Senate at the time, Santorum was pivotal in navigating welfare reform through the legislature and to the desk of President Bill Clinton. A legislative staffer at the time, Ron Haskins, now at the centrist Brookings Institution, attributed Santorum's success on welfare reform to his intelligence and to his ability to work with Democrats and compromise when needed, in an interview with National Review's Brian Bolduc.
Second, and also looking back into Santorum's congressional career in the early '90s, Santorum voted against NAFTA, and has cast somewhat consistent votes for tariffs. Alec MacGillis, writing for The New Republic's website, notes Santorum still addresses - in MacGillis' words, eloquently - the decline of domestic manufacturing. Michael Tanner, another writer for National Review, chides that Santorum favors "tilting the playing field toward manufacturing industries."
In the modern conservative movement, these positions may seem contradictory, or incongruent in some way. For another example, Erick Erickson of RedState.com includes Santorum's support of tariffs and trade barriers as policies that led to the Republicans' "downfall," as have other bloggers. But Santorum exhibits, on this tandem, a better grasp of economic and political reality and the relationship between the expectation that free men and women require self-reliance and the economic conditions - more specifically the respect for a diverse economy where producing goods is still valued - necessary for such self-reliance to be a practical possibility. And in that regard, Santorum's performance in Iowa provides glimmers of hope.
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