Rick Santorum Now the Great Conservative Hope

| Mon Feb. 13, 2012 2:08 PM EST

Back in January, before the South Carolina primary, I suggested there was still a sliver of hope for Rick Santorum. I probably meant to say that there were still slivers of hope for both Santorum and Gingrich, but my puny liberal brain just couldn't get its hands around the idea that there was any hope for Gingrich. So by process of elimination, that meant Santorum was the only remaining chance for the Anyone But Romney forces.

Well, guess what? Lots of negative ads and the usual Gingrichian meltdown — it's nice when people act exactly the way you think they're going to act, isn't it? — have, in fact, left Santorum as the last man standing whose last name doesn't start with R. The RCP poll average below shows Santorum surging after his primary wins last week, and the latest PPP poll shows him substantially ahead of Romney nationally, 38%-23%.

So what happens now that both the national spotlight and Romney's millions are turned on Santorum like the eye of Sauron? Nothing good, I imagine. Alternatively, maybe he really does have a chance, and Republicans have made up their minds to stage a nostalgic revival of 1964. The mind reels.

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