Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

Rick Santorum won eleven states — that’s nothing to sneeze at. Still, I can’t help thinking he could have done even better.

On the heels of his decision to suspend his campaign, there will be plenty of campaign postmortems penned. But the HuffPost’s Jon Ward has, perhaps, already nailed it.

As Ward notes, Santorum occasionally stumbled upon an inspiring message:

“If government is going to get smaller, then people have to get bigger,” Santorum said. “And that means they have to stretch out more, they have to do more things. But how beautiful is that? How beautiful is that that you’re going to have to do more to help those in need in our society?”

… This was a message with a soul, an appeal to freedom and to people’s better instincts, and simultaneously an acknowledgement of the question that many ask of those who want to shrink government: “Then what?”

(Imagine that! — a leader who summons us to follow our better angels.)

This could have been effective. But Santorum didn’t consistently drive this sort of transcendent message:

Combined with Santorum’s focus on reviving manufacturing, there was potential in these words to attract fiscal conservatives who want less government regulation and taxation, along with religious values voters, libertarian-minded Republicans, and blue-collar voters of both parties.

And it stood in contrast to Romney’s uninspiring promise to reprogram the economy. Romney’s core message had so far failed to connect or rouse conservatives so much that one well-connected Republican consultant who supports Romney called his candidacy “a campaign about nothing.”

However, Santorum drifted away from the “people have to get bigger” line. He talked about variations of that idea, but not consistently.

(Emphasis mine.)

Santorum, of course, faced a plethora of problems — many of which he couldn’t control. He couldn’t retroactively change the fact that he had supported most Bush-era big government policies, nor could he change the fact that Mitt Romney could outspend him many times over. And, of course, he couldn’t change the fact that The Drudge Report was seemingly out to get him.