The ultimate life example that vindicate Yogi Berra’s “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and the late 70s/early 80s polished “the opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings” is the 1948 presidential election between incumbent President Harry Truman (D) and New York Governor Thomas Dewey (R). Every major newspaper in the country (this was the pre-Internet era) printed a front page headline DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN or something similar. Mr. Dewey went to bed the night of Tuesday, November 2, 1948 believing he would wake up the thirty-fourth president of the United States. NOT!
Did the lessons of the 1948 election get lost in the progression of the American lifestyle the last sixty-five years? President Barrack Obama is now opening his re-election campaign with the self-assurance that Mitt Romney is his opponent and attacking accordingly. Mitt Romney has curtailed (not stopped completely as he is in Wisconsin now) his primary election campaign and has shifted to a general election campaign operating as though Barrack Obama is his only competition and turning a deaf ear to Rick Santorum’s continued full court press. As I have blogged on ad nausium, the mathematics do not show the nomination of Mr. Romney as a foregone conclusion. The mathematics shows Mr. Santorum or anyone else will not surpass Romney’s first place finish, but barring both Santorum and Gingrich dropping out, Romney will finish short of the required 1144. Suppose Rick Santorum is Obama’s challenger after all?
If the Obama camp thinks they can run the exact campaign [strategy] against Santorum as they will against Romney, they have another thing coming. You don’t pitch to Ty Cobb the same way you pitch to Babe Ruth. Ty Cobb hit .367 lifetime and was a fast runner to grab and extra base. You work Cobb on the high side of the strike zone and make him hit the ball in the air and let somebody on the field catch a fly ball. Pitch to Babe Ruth so he hits in the air, it goes over the fence! You have to pitch Ruth low and inside and try to strike him out. In an Obama vs. Romney election, with two progressive liberals, Obama must pinpoint key areas where the more conservative side of Romney shows a sharp contrast to himself and issues where Mitt Romney flip-flopped. Santorum, on the other hand, is a consistent conservative who has not flip-flopped. Therefore, Obama must treat it as a perpetual Lincoln-Douglas debate as the election will be a referendum on liberal vs. conservative politics. Are the Democrat and Obama strategists prepared to change strategies on the last minute?
The difference between Romney and Santorum will also have a huge effect the perceived value of the Republican Party. A Mitt Romney candidacy will force the RNC and all Republican strategists to ease up on high-performance Tea Party style Republican conservatism, as they cannot profess both the conservative and limited government positions and at the same time tell [you] to vote for Mitt Romney. A Rick Santorum candidacy will maintain steady traffic to the right.
It is important that all parties and Parties involved don’t count chickens before they hatch. It is not over for Rick Santorum. Like Romney and Gingrich who both won in their home states, Santorum will hang in there at least until April 24 when his home state of Pennsylvania votes (my home state of Connecticut votes on the same day); and then reassess based on primary results between now and April 24. If enough people can show support for Santorum, depriving Romney of 1144 is highly probable; especially if results are contested in Florida and Arizona, two winner take all delegates state won by Romney that were not supposed to hold primaries until after April 1st. Fellow Santorum supporters, “it ain’t over till it’s over”!