Rick Santorum continues to rely on national-security issues as his main focal point for the home stretch to the midterm elections. Despite the advice of analysts, Santorum refuses to subjugate issues such as terrorism and Iran in favor of economic and social issues, declaring the war on terror and all its implications the most critical points of consideration for voters:
In an election season in which the Republican Party’s leaders and pollsters are advising GOP candidates to emphasize the economy and avoid the Iraq war and national security, Pennsylvania’s junior senator prefers to address hometown crowds by invoking the nearly unpronounceable name of the Iranian president.
When Senator Santorum is on the stump, he delivers “The Gathering Storm,” a speech named after the first volume of Winston Churchill’s history of World War II. In the speech, he lists recent threats and atrocities perpetrated by Islamist terrorists and orchestrated by Iran. He follows each threat and atrocity with the refrain, “This is evil.” …
While vulnerable Republican incumbents in Virginia, Ohio, and Montana are running advertisements attacking Democrats for raising taxes, Mr. Santorum is criticizing Mr. Casey for being too passive on national security. One recent Santorum ad features footage of a North Korean missile launch spliced with pictures of President Ahmadinejad of Iran, a nuclear mushroom cloud, and Chinese oil platforms near American shores. An announcer ends the 30-second montage by saying, “We just can’t take a chance on Bob Casey.” …
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Santorum shrugged off his party’s advice. “I think I have a better understanding of what is going on in the minds of people in Pennsylvania than pollsters based in Washington,” the two-term senator said. “I run my campaign based on the important issues of the day.”
“This stuff needs to be said and I need to say it,” he added.
Santorum has a tough battle ahead of him. Most pollsters have him down by eleven or twelve points to Casey; Santorum says his internal polls show a seven-point gap. Neither represent very good news for an incumbent with the leadership role that Santorum has (#3 in the Senate). If anything indicated a warm-and-fuzzy message, those polls would do it.
However, like Mark Kennedy, Santorum prefers to emphasize the issues he thinks matter most in the long run. Economic policies can be adjusted, and social programs can get recalled. Losing focus on national security can get people killed, and as terrorists have proven, that may mean thousands of people at a time. Pennsylvania voters need to know those stakes, regardless of the political cost, and Santorum is determined to ensure they do.
Rick Santorum deserves election, especially faced off against a challenger of the caliber of Bob Casey, Jr. If Pennsylvanians agree, they need to work hard to get out the vote to return their Senator to his seat a week from today.