Republicans weigh Santorum win, expectations

Rick Santorum’s big victory Tuesday night in Colorado is unlikely to carry him to the nomination and even less likely to translate into a general-election rebuff of President Obama, observers said Wednesday.

Santorum supporters, though, said they’re undeterred by the pragmatic evaluation of   his candidacy.

Supporters of Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said they remained confident the former Massachusetts governor ultimately will prevail, and Republicans will unite behind him in the general election.

“I always thought he would do well,” said Montrose County Commissioner Gary Ellis, who hosted Santorum at a rally Saturday. “I didn’t know he would take it entirely.”

Many analysts saw Romney taking the vote in the Colorado presidential preference poll. Colorado State University pol-itical science professor John Straayer said.

“It probably means there’s an element of the Republican Party that is trying to make fools out of political scientists, and reporters as well,” Straayer said.

Santorum’s visit to Montrose was key, said Garry Brewer, Mesa County chairman for the Romney campaign, noting that after Santorum spoke Saturday, he was on a lot of Republican minds, even as Romney spoke in Grand Junction on Monday.

“It’s like a pie in an oven,” Brewer said. “It’s got to bake a bit,” and Santorum’s was ready at the right time.

Though Ellis is on his leadership committee, there was no formal Santorum organization in western Colorado, Ellis said.

Harold Larsen, who spoke up for Santorum in a Mesa County caucus Tuesday, said he did so spontaneously.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Larsen said.

Santorum easily carried Larsen’s caucus, 46 votes to Romney’s 27, with the other two candidates further back.

Tuesday’s win is unlikely to carry Santorum to the Oval Office, Straayer said.

“In a low-numbers game — and the turnout was smaller than it was in ‘08 — the most intense elements show up and dominate,” Straayer said.

In Santorum’s case, that reflects the interest of evangelicals and the tea party, Straayer said, noting the sharp differences with President Obama that Santorum is emphasizing won’t play as well when he’s trying to reach out to a larger pool of voters.

Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, in a statement on the MittRomney.com website aimed at tamping down expectations for the Tuesday caucuses, pointedly looked ahead to the March 6 Super Tuesday primary, when more than 400 delegates from 10 states are at stake.

If Santorum loses momentum, “It’s not going to be from lack of trying,” Ellis said. “I think his supporters are very much energized.”

However the GOP race plays out, Brewer said he expects a united party in November.

“When it all shakes out, we’ll get together, and we’ll be singing kumbaya” in an effort to unseat Obama, Brewer said.


COMMENTS

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Santorum’s victory in the Mesa County caucuses reveals just how out-of-touch with reality local Republicans really are. Santorum’s positions on major social issues are stunning in their ignorance, arrogance and bigotry.

Dennis - The simple, inescapable fact is that none of the current candidates for the Republican nomination has a ghost of a chance to win the presidency in November. Extreme conservative ideology doesn’t play very well at the national level. Most Americans are simply too smart to fall for their ridiculous positions.

Dennis - Your Tea Party is nothing more than warmed-over Libertarianism, which is nothing more than warmed-over “Objectivism” as postulated by cult novelist Ayn Rand. The end result of all of them is anarchy.

Dennis - In the end, WE will win, and the Tea Party will be relegated to the dustbin of history. Count on it! We in the elite have rigged the game to the point where we are the only ones who CAN win. Sorry!

Although on opposite sides politically, Scott McInnis and I do have one thing in common - we’re both very successful people.

Dennis - I never claimed to be a self-made man, only successful. Scott made it on his own, I was born into it.

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