Sitting atop some rather interesting scaffolding above the Polk Convention Center floor I got to thinking about the next 36 hours or so and how the worm has turned during this GOP primary. After recent, but brief rides on the Cain Train and the Gingrich bus is everyone now in the back of the Santorum pick-up truck? From what it sounds like on the ground, I think Rick is going to need a bigger truck.
From hanging out with folks at Java Joe’s (great coffee BTW) to a ride in an elevator, everyday Iowans have been offering up their thoughts on this race and Rick Santorum has become (at least for the moment) their kind of candidate.
So what does this mean for Romney? It’s all good as long as Rick remembers his place. Meaning: He shouldn’t let any success he may have on Tuesday night go to his head. If he does, the Romney Team and their 527s will make an “adjustment” for him. For now at least, Romney loves how Santorum has filled in the gaps for conservatives after the masterful filleting of Gingrich over the past two weeks. But trust me, if Santorum comes out of Iowa with a close 2nd or heaven forbid, outright wins the caucuses, then watch for those filet knives to come out for Santorum.
Why? Because a Santorum win in Iowa translates into an opportunity for the 75% of the GOP base which still can’t seem to bring themselves to support Romney to coalesce behind Rick (much like they started to do with Newt) and THAT won’t work for Romney. But, Rick has an advantage the other “anti-Romney” candidates did not have: it’s only one week until the next contest which will require some quick work in order to soften up support for Santorum and to make the ugly stuff stick.
One other thought, as the New Hampshire sun rises on Wednesday morning, watch for a different type of engagement from Gingrich (and Perry?) as attention shifts to the Nation’s first Primary. Yesterday in a back and forth with Chris Matthews, the former Speaker let it be known he had had enough of taking it on the chin from the Romney camp. Grab your popcorn. This is going to get good.