Rick Santorum might have lost his most famous battles—not just for re-election as senator from Pennsylvania in 2006, but also against Dan Savage’s icky re-definition of his name. But he could be winning the contest to become the GOP’s right-wing alternative to Mitt Romney. In yesterday’s Time/CNN poll, the social-values crusader registered 16 percent in Iowa, vaulting him ahead of Governor Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.
Will the operatic sturm und drang of the Republican presidential race end with a whimper of anti-climatic predictability? With one week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich is flailing (see below) and Ron Paul is mishandling the controversy over his racist newsletters (ditto), while Rick Santorum and Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are still squabbling over the same Christian Right turf—leading folks like Nate Silver to ask: "How Can Romney Lose?" Even Mike Huckabee, who famously said in 2008 that Romney looks like "the guy who laid you off," is predicting he'll be the nominee.
Now that Ron Paul is leading some Iowa polls, the knives are out—as they have been for every non-Romney contender this year. Michele Bachmann is warning of the apocalyptic consequences of Paul’s isolationist tendencies, while Rick Perry wants everyone to know that his fellow Texan is a big ol’ earmarker. Iowans are fretting that a Paul victory will spell doom for the caucuses.