Opinion

Why Santorum supporters should switch to Paul

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Jack Hunter
Contributing Editor, Rare
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      Jack Hunter

      Jack Hunter is a contributing editor at Rare.us. He has appeared frequently on Fox Business, Michael Savage and as a regular guest host on The Mike Church Show on Sirius XM. Hunter is the co-author of “The Tea Party Goes to Washington” by Sen. Rand Paul and assisted former Sen. Jim DeMint with his book “Now or Never: How to Save America from Economic Collapse.”

Ron Paul and Rick Santorum supporters haven’t always agreed on everything. Paul supporters have criticized Santorum for his support for legislation like Medicare Plan D and No Child Left Behind. Santorum supporters have criticized Paul for his foreign policy views and some of his other positions. But Paul’s supporters and Santorum’s supporters have always agreed that conservatives must be represented — and strongly — within the Republican Party, and that supporting Mitt Romney isn’t the way to ensure that happens. With Santorum out of the race, his supporters should consider supporting Paul’s candidacy.

There’s no doubt that many Santorum supporters are not entirely comfortable with Paul’s voting record, just as many of them weren’t comfortable with Santorum’s — especially Santorum’s record on spending issues. But Paul is far more conservative than Romney. Santorum supporters can help advance conservatism by standing with him.

Most Republicans who hold faith, family values and life as top priorities when selecting a candidate also want to seriously cut spending and reduce government. These folks accounted for most of Santorum’s support. Ron Paul is a conservative whose limited-government record is irrefutable — but who is also a devout Christian, 100% pro-life and has been married to the same woman for 50 years. In Paul, conservatives are rid of some of the things that made Santorum less attractive — big spending, government growth — but also have a candidate who has been a lifelong social conservative in more ways than many Republicans realize.

Many conservatives disagreed with Santorum on key issues but felt he was still an acceptable conservative alternative to Romney. Now, those same Republicans need not agree with Ron Paul on everything to consider him the only remaining alternative to Romney. Far more than Newt Gingrich, Paul has the organization, resources and passionate army of supporters to carry the important message of limited government all the way to Tampa. Gingrich cannot carry that message for the same reasons conservatives shied away from his campaign after Florida (for fiscal conservatives, his record; for social conservatives, his personal background). And as Santorum has rightly noted, Gingrich is far too similar to Romney to really challenge him and the GOP establishment.

Conservatives cannot afford to have the 2012 election mirror the 2008 election, when John McCain was the nominee, or the 1996 election, when Bob Dole was the nominee. In both instances, moderate Republican nominees took conservative voters for granted. Yes, McCain chose Sarah Palin in an attempt to keep conservatives in the fold and Dole chose Jack Kemp for the same reason — yet they ultimately ran general-election campaigns that largely ignored conservative interests.

Moving forward, it is vitally important that conservatives send the Republican establishment a message that we will not be ignored. The more comfortable Romney and the GOP establishment become, the more important it becomes to send that message. By all accounts, Romney is more comfortable now than he was just a few weeks ago, and we all know what happens when Republican leadership assumes conservative voters will blindly follow the party regardless of their actions.

Unlike Gingrich, Ron Paul is nothing like Romney. In fact, Paul is nothing like any of the other candidates in this race. This has often been a problem for him. It can now be an asset.

Santorum supporters will continue to disagree with Paul on certain issues, and vice versa. That’s fine. Debate is healthy. What would be unhealthy is a Republican establishment that once again ignores conservatives altogether. Ron Paul’s mission is to make sure this doesn’t happen. Conservatives of all stripes should join him.

Jack Hunter (also known by his radio moniker the “Southern Avenger”) is a frequent guest on Fox Business, Michael Savage’s nationally syndicated radio program “The Savage Nation” and a frequent guest host on The Mike Church Show on Sirius XM. Hunter is the co-author of “The Tea Party Goes to Washington” by Sen. Rand Paul, assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his book “Now or Never: How to Save America from Economic Collapse” and writes the Paulitical Ticker blog for the Ron Paul 2012 Campaign.