Advantages Santorum Has Over Romney

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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Following his sweep of contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, Rick Santorum may

have momentum on his side.  The key is sustaining that momentum going forward into Super Tuesday and beyond.  There are some things Santorum has in his favor that could sustain it, things that also show why he is a force to be reckoned with.

1. Santorum is not Romney

It may seem tough to start off with a negative but Santorum’s success perhaps says more about Romney than Tuesday night’s victor himself. Indisputably, Romney is a hard candidate for grassroots Republicans to love and his conservative bona fides will always be open to question.

Though many Republicans respect Romney or can tolerate him or can calculate in their heads that he should be their nominee, they can’t fall in love with him. Ultimately, they may not need to. But this makes the road to the nomination a rocky one for Romney, involving a series of candidates in the ABM (Anyone But Mitt) slot, the latest of whom is Santorum.

2. Santorum is a movement conservative

Santorum is a genuine conservative, socially, fiscally and in terms of foreign policy. He speaks the language in a way that Romney doesn’t.

As Rush Limbaugh put it recently: “He [Romney] just doesn’t have conservative reflexes. It’s like trying to learn golf late in life: The reflexes just aren’t there. You’ve got to have a foundation, a basic understanding to have the reflexes, and they just aren’t there. And I don’t know if he can learn ’em.”

Santorum has the foundation and the reflexes and he talks the language that conservative activists understand and can relate to.

3. Santorum has remained positive

Going negative on Newt Gingrich in Florida was good in the short term for Romney and he probably had no other realistic option. But it carried medium-term consequences (last night) and perhaps long-term ones as well.

Gingrich’s angry, peevish and intemperate responses to Romney did him a lot of damage. Romney got under his skin and it was not attractive to see. Floating above all this was Rick Santorum, campaigning largely positively and based on his ideas rather than on what a bum the other guys were.

4. Santorum is a happy warrior

Romney is much improved from 2008 but he remains a somewhat robotic candidate who finds it difficult to achieve a gut connection with voters. Campaigning sometimes seems almost painful to him

A big part of this may well be Romney’s background. As Naomi Zeveloff argues in this illuminating piece, he’s the “ultimate Mormon male” – with all the very good that entails but also the downsides: “The very qualities that make a good Mormon man, however, make for a poor campaigner.”

Santorum, by contrast, is at home on the campaign trail – as well he should be, having virtually taken up residence in Iowa for the caucuses – and that makes him a lot easier to relate to. In the Senate, Santorum had a reputation as a prickly character but he has become noticeably more relaxed and affable as the 2012 race has progressed.

5. Santorum is a Tea Partier

There have been plenty of Tea Party obituaries written but the Tea Party, whie amorphous and diffuse, is not dead. It was the motive force behind the Republican wave in 2010 and it is a major factor this time around as well. Doubtless with an eye on the general election, Romney has done no serious Tea Party outreach.

The Tea Party is populist and to a large degree blue collar. Although best known as a social conservative, Santorum’s blue collar roots and populist economic message makes him a natural Tea Party figure – whereas Romney is in many ways the epitome of the establishment candidate.

Of course, there are complicating factors in this – particularly Santorum’s record on earmarks – but for the time being Santorum is a more natural fit with the Tea Party than Gingrich, never mind Romney.

Head to the source to find other reasons why Rick Santorum shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to the race for the Republican nomination.

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School Choice Grows Amid Controvery

The details of success show why school choice needs to expand in Wisconsin.

As Messmer President and CEO the Rev. Bob Smith often puts it, education isn’t a function of test scores and homework — it’s about making better human beings.
Still Messmer boasts some pretty impressive academic achievements by Milwaukee and national education standard, arguably making the nation’s oldest voucher program a shining example of school choice.
The voucher system, allocating public money to send students — generally poor, minority students  —  to private, often faith-based, schools, opened in Milwaukee in 1990 when the state, led by then Gov. Tommy Thompson, cleared the way for the Catholic school to accept voucher students.
Robb said the early years were a struggle, a time of anxiety, when faculty, parents and students wondered whether the whims of politics would change its voucher status.
The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decided the constitutionality of the question early last decade, just as school choice programs continued to expand.
No doubt some have been controversial, and some have failed during the past two decades, but there is no questioning the growth of school choice initiatives in Wisconsin and nationwide.
Parent interest in school choice has soared since the voucher program was implemented in Milwaukee.
In Milwaukee, 47 percent of students in the district attend a choice program outside traditional public programs, said Terry Brown, vice president of School Choice Wisconsin, which advocates for choice in education.
Some 6,400 students last year attended independent charter schools, funded by state education dollars but not affiliated with the public school system.
Another 23,198 attended Milwaukee Parental Choice Program schools, like Messmer.
The Catholic school itself has seen its voucher enrollment, which comprises about 90 percent of its student count, climb from dozens of students in 1990 to just under 1,700 students on three campuses, with waiting lists each of the past seven years, Robb said.
Despite this success, there are the usual suspects who are critical of the program.
“If people want to operate private schools they should operate private schools. People are not paying property taxes to go to the private sector,” said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teacher’s Inc., the teachers union in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
For Matthews and other critics of school choice programs, the broader problem with independent charters is that they are not organized by the same organizational structures as public school systems, and that leads to a question of accountability.
There also have been concerns that privately run schools on the public dime have been allowed to “cherry pick” their students, selecting the best achievers, leaving behind special needs populations.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, along with groups like Disability Rights Wisconsin, last year filed a discrimination lawsuit against Messmer and other voucher schools, as well as DPI and the state, arguing the system “discriminated against students with disabilities”.
Ultimately it’s baseless criticism based on misconceptions.
Messmer’s enrollment includes about 150 students classified under special needs criteria, Robb said.
And, charter schools are bound to take in black and Hispanic students, among the poorest of the poor in Milwaukee. Messmer’s free-and-reduced lunch population has approached 90 percent.
In the end school choice continues to see success because it ends the “monopoly” known as public education.
The success of school choice programs, Brown said, boils down to consumer confidence.
“I think parents vote with their feet, not only when it comes to the academics of the school but the safety of the school and the character of the school,” he said.
Groups like School Choice Wisconsin say competition in America’s bruised education system is not only good for students and families, it’s good for public education. The more choice — the more success outside the traditional public school system — the greater the education success at large, they argue.
Brown and other choice proponents assert education unions have stymied success in a public school system that is stuck in 19th century state of mind. He said too many in public education want to “protect a monopoly.”
But why not fix the existing public education system, at the very least devoting the public money from choice programs into public schools? That’s a question choice critics have long asked.
“As a state we need to remind ourselves that while parents obviously support the roll of governmental funding in education, that doesn’t equal parental support of the government to run everything in schools,” Brown said.
Understanding the success of school choice has seen in Milwaukee and recognizing the misconceptions pushed by critics are the key to getting strong public support for expanding the program to cities like Green Bay.
Discover the benefits of private education during School Choice Week which runs through January 28.
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Rick Santorum: “Game On”

It is “Game On” in the Republican Presidential primary following the “surprise” finish by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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Mitt Romney may have won the Iowa Caucuses by eight votes, but the story coming out of Iowa is Rick Santorum. In addressing his supporters on Tuesday night, the first words out of his mouth were, “Game on.”

Romney edged Santorum 30,015 to 30,007 votes. The result is closest caucus finish in history and a campaign that go down in history.

After languishing in the polls for almost two years, most candidates would have changed course, fired their advisors, and thrown in the towel, but not Rick Santorum. From the beginning of the campaign to the caucuses themselves, Santorum stayed faithful to his grassroots strategy that relied more on blood, sweat, and tears, than the glitz, glamour, and media attention that comes with being a front-runner.

Santorum’s strategy paid off, largely because Iowa’s plentiful social conservatives coalesced around his candidacy in the closing days of the campaign. His message on bringing manufacturing jobs home resonated with blue-collar workers. Another key factor behind Santorum’s stunning victory in Iowa is the simple fact that he made himself more assessable to Iowa voters than any other candidate.

The strong finish by Santorum shows the Tea Party will be a force in 2012.

The Santorum Iowa “victory” negates the dire predictions against the Tea Party, most notably by Talk Show host and O’Reilly Factor pundit, Laura Ingraham, who said recently that a win in Iowa for Romney was a defeat for the Tea Party.

Clearly it was not, because Mitt Romney, for all the push and hype, barely scraped past Rick Santorum for the top spot in Iowa, and did not crack the percentage ceiling, maintaining a plateau below 30 percent, while Santorum’s grass-roots, bare knuckles and bare-bones campaign managed to resonate reasonably with the hawkeye voters, who gave him the second spot.

If there’s an unsung “hero” in the Iowa Caucuses, it most certainly is the Tea Party, because the narrative in the election and the driving forces are the issues of the economy, unemployment and jobs, and the corruption of Crony Socialism of the current administration, the very issues of the Tea Party.

The Iowa caucus results also show the importance of EVERY vote for this reason.

They show that no matter how you slice it, the GOP nomination for President is up for grabs.  When you tally all the polls and divvy-up all the percentages, add in all the predictions, factor in all the speculation, then sum up all the estimates, the inside skinnies, the fat rumors, the wishful thinkings, the positive ponderings, the maybe baby’s, the hollow hunches, and the round tuits, Conservatives need to get out the vote, the message, and follow through to the result.

As was said Tuesday night, “Game On!”

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Petri to have challenger in 2012

Looks like 32-year incumbent Tom Petri is going have a challenge from the right, as the founder of Conservative Wisconsin PAC has filed papers to run.  From the Lauren Stephens for Congress Facebook page.

I am finishing up the website which will go into detail about my platform, but until then, I’ll let you know that Illegal Immigration, Social Security (you’re being lied to!), the Patriot Act, Election/Campaign Finance Reform and NAFTA are some of the main issues that are important to me.

Could be an uphill battle as Petri has nearly $1 million in his campaign coffers.  However  a true grassroots campaign if properly organized and with the right backing could be successful.  Look for more from Lauren soon as her campaign takes shape.

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