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Santorum Is This Week's Anti-Romney, but Can He Last?

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Ticker: Santorum Margin of Victory

By Margaret Carlson

Like Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum is more admired than liked. Many of Santorum's former Senate colleagues don't love him, though some respect him. Even the Christian right had a hard time wrapping its arms around him. So I suspect Santorum's three wins last night won't mean much in the grand scheme of things.

Unlike Romney, however, Santorum is sweaty with belief. He is convinced that life begins on the first date and ends with "death panels" created by Obamacare, which he will repeal by executive fiat within seconds after being inaugurated. Whether this intensity will help him is unclear. What is clear after last night is the shallowness of Romney's front-runner status. Thus far the anti-Mitt vote has been split. The Republican base has given a string of candidates -- from a vulgar casino owner to a crackpot pizza magnate to a grandiose adulterer -- a twirl around the dance floor. Can Santorum finally unite the anybody-but-Romney vote?

If the current field of Republican candidates lived in your neighborhood -- a shuddering thought, I realize -- you might think of them this way: Romney is a great next-door neighbor, never complaining when you don't return the hedge clippers, but you wouldn't have him over for a beer. Ron Paul looks and sounds like the cranky old man across the street -- and he pretty much is, though he occasionally makes sense at the debates. Gingrich is the guy from the block who never stops talking, smooth and entertaining but so full of himself you soon find yourself shutting off the porch light when he appears. And then there is Santorum,whose default expression is a pout, even when you're telling him how much you admire his lawn.

The Republican race will now proceed with two unloved candidates. May the best man win.

(Margaret Carlson is a columnist for Bloomberg View.)

For more quick commentary from Bloomberg View, go to the Ticker.

-0- Feb/08/2012 18:36 GMT

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