Rick Santorum’s rise to become Mitt Romney’s chief opponent in the race for the Republican presidential nomination has transformed the former Pennsylvania senator into a leading conservative voice and resurrected a political career badly damaged by an 18-point re-election loss in 2006, The Washington Post
His race from back-of-the-pack to the front in just four months also ensures he will be a major player at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.
“At a minimum, he is going to be a significant conservative voice on the national political landscape,” conservative activist Ralph Reed told the Post.
“For a while, he was still kind of feeling his way to find the message that would click with the voters. You could see that he was trying out lines and he wasn’t quite there yet. But before this is over, he may well be president or vice president — and that is pretty remarkable for a defeated former senator who thought his career was over.”
While Romney has said that he would not pick Santorum as a vice presidential running mate, the pressure may be there, especially with Santorum’s standing with the party base.
“A lot of smart people make the case for Rubio and Christie being the future of the party, but Santorum is winning primaries today, and that has to count for something,” Dan Schnur, who worked on Sen. John McCain’s White House bid in 2000, told the Post. “But until Romney finds a way to start convincing conservatives to vote for him, there’s no reason for Santorum to be thinking about a second spot on the ticket. It’s worth assuming that Rick Santorum went to bed Tuesday night thinking about who was going to be his running mate, rather than if he would be Romney’s.”
Schnur was referring to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., both widely touted as vice presidential timber.
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