Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is set to announce his presidential bid today, has his share of fans among conservatives -- just read Kathryn Jean Lopez's column from this morning. But he'll be hurt by the fact that he's very much a Bush era Republican.
Whatever his rhetoric, Santorum at the end of the day embraced many of the big government initiatives of the Bush administration, including the Medicare prescription drug plan. Though he now speaks out against earmarks, he took them while in the Senate. He also pushed milk supports for dairy farmers in rural Pennsylvania. And who can forget the fact thathe endorsed Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in the 2004 GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania. And we all know how that turned out -- Specter went on to become a Democrat and cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, while Toomey proved he could actually get elected statewide in Pennslyvania.
During CPAC, I spoke with Santorum on several of these issues. He argued that he would have taken stronger positions on spending during the Bush years if there had been a Tea Party to back him up, though he still defended his support for dairy subsidies.
For all these reasons, coupled with his penchant for saying things that aren't exactltly phrased in the most politically tacful ways (not to mention losing his last election in a landslide), Santorum won't be the GOP nominee. But he could still bring added attention to social issues, and as I noted at the time, he came off very strong on foreign policy during the first GOP debate.