Ever since this campaign began I thought that if a conservative candidate could catch Mitt Romney in an open field - just the two of them out there - it would be tough afternoon for the man from Massachusetts.
That day has come - and it's clear as day what we're looking at. We're looking at a candidate of the center-right trying to take on the real thing, someone who speaks, feels and sweats the talk of the Republican base.
Watch the next time you see Santorum speak to a crowd. He speaks as one of the people who's in the room. He's one of them. They can tell he's one of them, just another true-blue conservative like them. You can see the common idiom, the common emotion, the passion of people talking to eachother like people of the same tribe do - same passionate political tribe in this case.
Now watch Romney. Watch a guy who looks like he dressed for the occasion - the jeans, the open collar, the slightly-mused hair - as if he were headed to a costume party and he was told to dress like --- a conservative, like one of those people who show up at Tea Party meetings - only just a little bit better. Don't you think? It's like he's bought the "designer" version of what the "little people" wear, the rich fellow's dress-up to look like … again, the sort of people who come to Republican political rallies.
It's touching, just a little, isn't it.
Jack Kennedy once said that he felt sorry for rival Richard Nixon because he didn't know what Richard Nixon to be each day.
That's certainly no problem for Rick Santorum. You may think him an anachronism. You may think him zany or fear him as a theocrat - you know, a guy who wants his religion to be the state's religion, his values to be the national law. All that may be true, but he is what he is. He's never changed the whole time I've known him.
Romney doesn't change either. He just pretends to, and that's what's begun to make this otherwise dignified man look so politically goofy.