Matt Lewis

Romney won’t be able to count on conservative media intelligentsia to bring down Santorum

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

The Rick Santorum boomlet presents an interesting conundrum for Mitt Romney: It neutralizes the section of the GOP establishment otherwise known as the conservative commentriat.

While the center-right media intelligentsia were more than happy to help destroy the “unserious” candidates such as Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich (and others), they generally like Santorum. There are likely many reasons for this.

One appealing attribute is that Santorum is somewhat of a wonkish intellectual type. This appeals to conservative pundits who fear the tea party set might nominate someone who would make them look like a rube to their cosmopolitan friends. As the Washington Post’s in-house Romney cheerleader, Jennifer Rubin, wrote, Santorum “is a well-educated man who cites (without pretense) everyone from John Adams to C.S. Lewis. He’s someone who thinks it important to know things — and know them in detail if you’re going to run for the presidency.”

And consider National Review’s infamous editorial, tearing down Gingrich (and Bachmann and Perry). That same piece praised Santorum as “an effective legislator” and included him among the candidates who “deserve serious consideration.”

Having served as a senator in Washington for more than a decade, it’s also true that many conservative commentators have likely met or worked with him over the years.

Lastly, there’s also the fact that Santorum is outspoken regarding his Catholic faith. Anecdotally speaking, Catholics seem well-represented among the conservative media elite (the most famous example having been Bill Buckley). One might surmise this helps Santorum connect. And, let’s be honest, say what you will about Santorum’s “big government” record, he was a tireless worker on behalf of cultural issues.

At a time when Catholics (arguably the swing vote in America) are coming under fire by the White House, Santorum’s intelligence, faith, and ability to communicate effectively seem to be especially appealing attributes. My guess is these factors have converged to make Santorum just as appealing to conservative intellectuals as he is to blue collar “rust belt” workers.

Romney must tread lightly when attacking Santorum. And he won’t be able to count on the help of his willing accomplices in the conservative media this time around…