AirTalk for February 8, 2012

Rick Santorum wins three-state sweep – but what does it mean?

Rick Santorum Attends Missouri Primary Night Event

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks to supporters as his son, John (L) and wife, Karen (R), look on February 7, 2012 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri.

Last night, Rick Santorum scored a hat trick by winning Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, the three states being contested for the GOP nomination. Even though none of these contests immediately award delegates, it could still be a major jump start to Santorum’s campaign, which had been petering out after the South Carolina and Florida primaries.

Furthermore, it will definitely set Mitt Romney back a bit after his recent gains, and will once again force the GOP electorate to consider the “conservative credentials” of their chosen nominee. Newt Gingrich also suffers, as he made basically no news throughout any of these contests and didn’t even speak to his supporters at the end of the night. Even Ron Paul made some worthy progress, winning second place in Minnesota.

Voters may find themselves looking to Santorum as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney come Super Tuesday, which would be fatal to Gingrich’s proposed path to the nomination. But again, none of these states award any binding delegates, so this might only prove to be a feather in Santorum’s cap. Furthermore, without a major jump in fundraising, no Republican candidate is going to be able to compete with Romney’s money machine nationally.

WEIGH IN:

What did Santorum really win here? Is Romney still the frontrunner in this race? What does Santorum have to do to capitalize on this momentum? How will the Romney campaign handle it? And what happened to Newt?

Guests:

Tim Lefever, Chairman of the Board, Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) in Sacramento

Arnold Steinberg, Veteran Republican Strategist and Analyst


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