Well, this has to be the most underwhelming story of the week, from National Journal‘s Alex Roarty: “Rick Santorum Gathers Advisers To Plot 2016 Run.”
Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on why people run for president when not much of anyone else seems to be craving their services (Hell, I worked for a guy–Sam Nunn–who kept refusing to run when people were begging him to!). As we learned in 2012, some run for president not because they think they can win, but in order to set themselves up for lucrative book and video sales (Newt Gingrich) or media gigs (Herman Cain). Some probably have messianic pretensions. Some just like to hear the sound of their own voices echoing through the obligatory presidential campaign coverage.
A Santorum run seems implausible because there are obviously better and fresher potential candidates who can poach on a constituency that Rick had in the first place only because his only competition for it was so very, very bad. Mike Huckabee would take away Santorum’s Iowa base (which he, after all, had first) in a fetal heartbeat. Ted Cruz creates more excitement among “constitutional conservatives” in each appearance than Rick did in a cycle. Bland as he is, Scott Walker would probably clean his clock early and often. I’d even venture cultural conservatives would give Bobby Jindal (whose prospects I do not rate highly) a long look before settling for Santorum.
All we learn from Roarty’s piece is that Santorum and his people think he looked just as hopeless four years ago, which is not quite the same as an argument he’ll light up the boards this time.
About all I can figure is that Rick Santorum has read a lot about the habit Republicans have of nominating the “next in line,” meaning the previous cycle’s second-place finisher, and thinks it’s a “law” rather than observed behavior when candidates not named Rick Santorum were involved.
If millions of Republicans and conservative activists are indeed looking longingly towards Fairfax County hoping for Santo II, there’s little objective evidence of it. RCP’s 2016 GOP polling averages chart doesn’t even list him. The latest test heat, from McLatchey/Marist, has him at a booming 2%. So if he is indeed “plotting,” he’d better plot big, or he’ll spend most of his time on the campaign trail being asked when he’s going to drop out.