Lately, there’s one place Rick Santorum can still feel like a winner: the bowling lanes. Over the weekend, he bowled a turkey — three strikes in a row — in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Since then, he’s appeared at bowling alleys in Fond du Lac and La Crosse, and his campaign just released a schedule with two more bowling-lane appearances planned in the coming days. On Wednesday, Santorum issued a challenge to Mitt Romney: a “bowl-off” in advance of next week’s Wisconsin primary.
What exactly would be at stake wasn’t clear. It seemed like simultaneously a bid to underscore Santorum’s blue-collar cultural credentials — during his tour of Wisconsin, he’s also been playing shuffleboard and drinking beer — and an attempt to get the front-runner, who is increasingly ignoring his provocations, on Santorum’s turf. According to the Washington Examiner, Santorum “studied Bowling 101 at Penn State University, has shot a high game of 241 (out of 300) and opened one recent game with seven straight strikes” and owns his own bowling ball.
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Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have withered from being Mitt Romney’s legitimate competitors into mere “hecklers,” Politico’s Jonathan Martin writes. The scenarios by which they could win the Republican nomination are becoming more and more “far-fetched,” their rhetoric becoming more desperate. The Atlantic Wire would like to take this image one step further, naming them then Statler and Waldorf of the Republican presidential primary — guys that never get to be the main characters, instead serving as a tool to lower the self-esteem of those Muppets who do. […]
The Times’ Trip Gabriel reports that even “humiliation has not changed [Newt’s] will to stay in the race.” His colleagues Jeff Zeleny and Sarah Wheaton write, “The question facing Mr. Santorum was not whether he intended to press forward with his candidacy, but whether he should.” Both men, several reports say, are making less progress towards winning the nomination than towards embarrassing Romney on the daily. Both Gingrich and Santorum toted Etch-a-Sketches last week when a Romney aide referenced the toy to explain how the candidate would pivot to a general election message. They looked cynical and trivial, just like classic hecklers from the Muppets, though without the jokes.
Rick Santorum is back. After his stunning three-state sweep in Tuesday’s Republican balloting, the former Pennsylvania senator has single-handedly revived a GOP race that seemed to be on the verge of wrapping up. How seriously has his new wave of successes reordered the landscape? A forthcoming national poll will show him in first place, the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling tweeted Thursday night.
To those who had written him off as a social-conservative niche candidate or a one-hit wonder after his Iowa surprise, this is a bit jarring, if not plain laughable. The guy who once equated homosexuality to “man on dog,” prompting a sex columnist to turn his name into an obscenity? The guy who lost his last race for reelection by 18 percentage points? The dweeb in the sweater vest? Why is this guy being taken seriously by Republican voters?
His latest resurgence may be as much about Mitt Romney as it is about Santorum. But there are three key attributes that endear Santorum to conservatives — and they’re all things Romney lacks: an appealing personal story, a refusal to back down and a set of impeccable culture-war credentials. Read more.
[Image: Whitney Curtis/Getty]
Who is the eccentric crocodile-hunting billionaire who kept the Santorum campaign alive?
“When Friess returned home to the United States, it was to a pursuit even more far-fetched than killing giant-crocodiles—trying to get Rick Santorum elected president. Friess is responsible for $331,000 of the $730,000 raised by Santorum’s Super PAC, the Red White and Blue Fund. He has also kicked in a third of the $150,000 raised by Leaders for Families, another pro-Santorum Super PAC. Friess has promised to keep the spigot open until the February 28 Michigan primary, if not beyond.
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