GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum (artist's rendering).
Rick Santorum's effort in Iowa received a late boost from Jim Gibbons, the much-revered former wrestling coach at Iowa State University, who endorsed the GOP presidential candidate at a Pizza Ranch in Boone on Monday. In a caucus, where voters can be pressured by their peers right up to the minute they cast their votes, these kinds of endorsements tend to carry a lot of weight. But there's another sub-plot to it all: Rick Santorum has sort of a weird fixation with wrestling.
As Mike Newall reported in his excellent 2005 Philadelphia City Paper profile, prior to getting involved in politics, Santorum worked at a law firm, where he once argued in court—successfully—that pro wrestling should be exempt from steroid regulations because it's staged (and therefore not a sport). Jake Tapper flags a 2010 quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer in which Santorum spins his wrestling work in small-government terms: "Pennsylvania was the most pernicious of states when it came to regulation. They made you pay all this money to the boxing [athletic] commission. They used to just rape these guys. You’d have to pay a certain percentage of the gate receipts to have these officials just stand around and watch the match. It was ridiculous." (Emphasis mine.)
And—because three makes a trend—here's a Rick Santorum campaign ad from 2006, which has been making the rounds today. It stars Rick Santorum (obviously), using the spectacle of mostly-naked men wrestling as a metaphor for what's wrong with Washington. (If nothing else, he seems to have anticipated the Chris Lee/Anthony Weiner scandals):
What would Rick Santorum's wrestling name be? We're going with "The Vest."
As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.
I could describe in great detail Newt Gingrich's 2007 address to Second Life, in which a pony-tailed avatar parachutes onto the steps of the United States Capitol to hear the (considerably slimmer) former speaker discuss novelist Isaac Asimov novel,Necromancer. Or you could just see for yourself:
We cannot confirm that the man at the 3:13 mark is Wolf Blitzer's Second Life avatar.
Bachmann campaigns at a Rock the Caucus event on the morning of the Iowa caucuses.
Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann dropped out of the GOP presidential race on Wednesday morning in Des Moines after a fairly disastrous sixth-place finish at the Iowa caucuses. "I believe that if we are going to repeal Obamacare, turn our country around, and take back our country, we must do so united," explained the one-time front-runner, whose campaign began to collapse almost immediately after her triumph at the Ames Straw Poll in August. "And I believe that we must rally behind the person that our country and our party and our people select to be that standard-bearer." In characteristic Bachmann fashion, she left her audience with a dire warning: If Americans don't elect the right candidate next November (she wouldn't suggest who that might be), the United States would become a socialist country. Take it to the bank.
Think you're smarter than a CNN pundit? Predict the next winner with our interactive app.
Bachmann's campaign might be history, but no one can ever take away the memories. She represented—to paraphrase Kennedy—the greatest collection of paranoia, factual inaccuracy, and overheated rhetoric since Herman Cain dined alone. And she will be missed. Here's a quick look at the road we traveled:
Her proposal to build a border fence through the Rio Grande and across the length of Big Bend National Park, even though that would have the unintended consequence of diverting the course of the river and, by extension, the US–Mexico border.
The GOP candidate's strong showing in Iowa underscored Mitt Romney's fundamental weaknesses.
Tim MurphyJan. 4, 2012 4:24 AM
About 30 minutes after Rick Santorum left the stage here at the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, Iowa, volunteers are beginning to wheel away the sound system, the windows have been flung open in a valiant effort to clear away the smell of about 500 people who have been penned in for a few hours too long, and, over in the corner, Jim Bob Duggar is holding court about how we got here. As he talks, the nominal winner of the Iowa Republican caucus is still unclear—but whatever the final tally, the reality TV star, former state representative, and father of 19 has clearly identified the loser. "This is a huge defeat for Mitt Romney," Duggar says, wearing what looks to be the same suit he wore on Monday at the Pizza Ranch in Boone. He walks through Romney's missteps: an individual mandate in Massachusetts, a health care system that pays for abortions, and on top of all of that, "he supported 180 marriage licenses for homosexual couples."
Romney ultimately squeaked past Santorum by eight votes on Tuesday day night, in what was by far the closest margin in the history of the Iowa caucuses—30,015 to 30,007, good for a .000065 percent advantage. Romney will travel next to New Hampshire, where he's expected to win big next Tuesday, and from there to South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and so on, until the nomination is finally his. On Tuesday night, Rick Perry, once Romney's biggest rival, acknowledged that he was reevaluating his campaign; he and Michele Bachmann are expected to drop out soon.
But Duggar has a point: After Romney spent millions of dollars to win the state over the course of five years, benefited from $3.5 million in advertisements from his allied super-PAC, and saw four successive Republican front-runners fail fantastically, more than three out of four Iowa Republicans still voted for someone else. And they did it for reasons that go much deeper than his personality.
They've tallied up the results at Johnston, Iowa's precinct 481 and the big winner is...well, that's not totally clear. But here are the basics: Out of 335 votes cast, Mitt Romney claimed 76; Rick Santorum had 75—and further down, Michele Bachmann had 15; Jon Huntsman trailed former Alabama supreme court judge Roy Moore, by a 2 to 1 margin (Moore had 2, Huntsman had 1). Huntsmentum, feel it.
Over at Santorum headquarters at the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, the mood is fairly jubilant. There's a sizable crowd around the television, chanting "Rick! Rick! Rick!" (and the occasional ear-piercing whistle) whenever Fox News returns from commercial and updates its results. Steven Wagner's monitoring the television, as the results begin to show, for the first time, Santorum, creeping into first place. He's actually from DC—he flew to Iowa this weekend because Santorum's a family friend. And as much as it might pain him to say it, he wasn't quite sure Santorum was ever going to catch fire. "I was really waiting for Rick to make a move and was kind of perplexed as to why he hadn't caught on," he says. "I didn't think that it was his year, in a structural sense. There was somehow this environment in Iowa that was preventing him from catching on."
But now that he's caught on, Wagner thinks there's no stopping him. "I think Rick's the kind of militant candidate that'll give the president a run for his money. He means what he says to his bones."