The Debate

Rick Santorum’s Big Night

Is Rick Santorum poised to shake up the Republican presidential nomination process in polls tonight?

Most of my focus on the U.S. presidential campaign foreign policy front has been on Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and obviously Barack Obama. In the case of the Republican candidates, this has largely been because these have been the front runners, and so most likely to influence U.S. policy moving forward (although Jon Huntsman was interesting simply because he didn’t fit the mold of his party).

But each Republican primary contest brings a new flavor of the week, and this time it’s Rick Santorum’s turn. Despite belatedly being declared the winner of first on the calendar Iowa, the former Pennsylvania governor has largely been moving under the radar. But with Romney still struggling to close the deal, despite a thumping win in Nevada at the weekend, the Washington chatter is now of how Santorum might be poised to offer Romney the biggest headache.

Certainly, the Romney camp has started to train its fire on Santorum as three states head to the polls tonight, hoping to do to Santorum what they did to Gingrich in Florida.

Surveys by Public Policy Polling show Santorum leading Romney by 45 percent to 32 percent in Missouri, by 33 percent to 24 percent in Minnesota, but trailing in Colorado by 10 percent. If these numbers hold, Romney would still be the frontrunner, but it would play into the ongoing narrative that he’s just not exciting the Republican base. If Santorum were somehow able to pull out a win in Colorado, then Romney could at least start to look like he could be in a little trouble, especially as he carried that caucus with 60 percent of the vote back in 2008.

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I’ll update later or tomorrow depending on the results, including a closer look at Rick Santorum’s foreign policy plans for Asia if he’s able to pull out a couple of wins (if he’s beaten in all three, don’t expect him to be around for much longer).