Now that Newt Gingrich balloon has been properly deflated and the circus of Herman Cain gone, Romney has asserted his presumptive nominee status emphatically. He had not invested so heavily earlier in Iowa, wary of evangelicals; but has sized an opportunity in recent days and has established himself the front runner. This is a strong and politically positive show by Romney.
Not for nothing you get Ross Douthat writing so eloquently about Ron Paul and that is showing in his strong polling in Iowa. He has the game there and he is all set to exploit it fully. The way he is making 'unpalatable' policy positions debated in GOP, this campaign is lot more constructive for America. Of course, his bogus theory of Gold Standards and Fed Demolition has been thoroughly deconstructed by Paul Krugman. Further Rick Santorum has argued effectively perils of extreme 'international isolationism' advocated by Paul. In other words I agree with Douthat here, Paul's campaign - leaving aside questions about his commitment for racial and social equality - brings positives; but it is hard to imagine President Ron Paul; nor it will be a good presidency for America.
That leaves the true star here - Rick Santorum; the candidate who has gumption to talk about Capital Gain Tax and to take on 'supply siders'. Of all the GOP candidates, it will be Santorum who will give 'run for money' to Obama in the Mid West / Rust Belt states where he is arguing for 'blue color manufacturing' jobs to the hilt. 'If you do not accept layoffs of Bain Capital, then to go to Moscow' line of argumentation of Romney is completely blown away by this Santorum Populism. This is the exact kind of 'populism' America needs desperately to address the inequality we are witnessing all along. There is something to the Santorum candidacy that none of other GOP candidates are bringing - authenticity and principled policy ad-vocation. Romney's phoniness, his rich Capitalistic slash & burn privileged background and his endless flip-flops; all that make him pale compared to what Santorum brings to the table. WaPo blogger Jennifer Rubin had been mentioning Santorum Campaign positively all along. Likes of her get attracted to Rick Santorum candidacy for his consistent Conservative policies. On Social Policy he is a hard liner and for any Liberal it will be hard to accept his policies. But between the choice of 'tax cuts for rich' and 'social conservatism'; Americans will accept 'social conservatism' any time so long as 'fundamental and equatable economic order' is proposed. That is the true opening for Santorum in the general election against Obama. One can very easily imagine that all of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan etc. Blue Collar White Hillary Democrat types will flock to Santorum deserting Obama and defeating him in the battle ground Mid-West & Rust belt. Among GOP candidates, Santorum poses the greatest risk to Obama; at least on the policy front. On 'organizational & grass root game' level, it is Romney who is strong and Santorum very likely fails there as so many pundits speculate. But what I think will be most beneficial to America will be campaigns like Santorum who are talking revival of Blue Collar Manufacturing in America. (Financial Times speculates that America is going to be on upswing as far as closing the Manufacturing gap with China goes; what better way to cement a place in History than to exploit the underlying secular trends?)
This is the opportunity Iowa has - to bring forth GOP candidates who will help right policy questions to surface and American Politics is lot better served when that happens.