Despite his phobia of higher education, Rick Santorum showed on Tuesday night that he is capable of learning. But the lightbulb in his head may have clicked on a little too late. Conceding his narrow defeat in Michigan, Santorum set aside the culture-war logorrhea that likely cost him a narrative-changing win over Mitt Romney, wore a beaming smile that proclaimed “Hey, I’m no angry prophet of doom!” and began the proceedings with a warm tribute to the “independent women” in his life—a far cry from Satanic warnings and dire concerns about women serving in combat and using birth control. “My 93-year-old mom,” Santorum said, was an “unusual person for her time.” She got a college education in the '30s, you see, and then a graduate degree. Heck, “She was a professional who actually made more money than her husband.” (Wait—he’s proud of this?) And there was more: He didn’t call Romney a “joke” or a “bully” as he had done in the frantic final days before the Michigan and Arizona primary contests. There was no vomiting over church-state separation, no comparing the president to Hitler—none of the stuff that undercut his “Big Mo” in Michigan. The rest of Santorum’s speech was relentlessly focused on his populist economic message, and demonstrated his greatest advantage over Romney: He can speak Middle American fluently. If this had been the Santorum who campaigned across Michigan the past two weeks, he’d have been proclaiming victory. Instead, he leaves the state headed into Super Tuesday with self-inflicted wounds that have him looking less “electable” than ever.
So They Say
"President Obama has traded in the hard hat and lunch bucket category of the Democratic Party for the hipster fedora and a double skim latte."
Daily Meme: Spin Room
- Romney: "We didn't win by a lot—but we won by enough, and that's all that counts."
- Santorum: It's a tie!
- Jonathan Cohn: Did Romney win or merely survive?
- Maureen Dowd: “Mitt Romney needs to be left alone to limp across the finish line, so he can devote his full time and attention to losing to President Obama.”
- John Cassidy: “Did the curse of the Kennedys strike Santorum?”
- Frank Rich: Romney's inevitable again, but only because there's no alternative.
- Jay Carney: "That was supposed to be a non-event primary because one of the contestants was born there and his father was governor."
- Gingrich super PAC spokesman: “Rick Santorum might win if he could speak English.”
- National Review: "Romney is most certainly not the majority choice of his party."
- John Heileman: "Let's not understate what Mitt Romney accomplished in Michigan yesterday—but let's not overstate it, either."
What We're Writing
- Harold Meyerson is not bowled over by the prospect of Olympia Snowe running on the Americans Elect ticket.
- Abby Rapoport welcomes you to the freaky “new world of campaigning, based largely on your personal data.”
What We're Reading
- “The Elitist”: Massachusetts Republicans spoof Elizabeth Warren, silent-movie-style.
- Romney backs the Blunt Bill to roll back Obama’s birth-control mandate—after saying he opposed it.
- The pro-Newt super PAC is back in action, hitting Romney and Santorum.
- Marin Cogan goes on the lookout for Santorum Democrats in Michigan.
- Are we underrating Mitt?
Poll of the Day
The race for Wisconsin’s open Senate seat, likely between Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin and former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, is a toss-up.