photo, left to right: Santorum, Romney, Paul
by Amanda Litvinov
On a cold Iowa caucus evening, Republican voters came out in support of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney—sort of. He won by a mere eight votes over former Senator Rick Santorum. But the more interesting story is the one being group-written by the candidates themselves as they fill the roles assigned by financial backers, repeat well-rehearsed lines composed especially for key constituencies and take an eraser to the parts of their pasts they wish to get rid of.
A look at the top three finishers in Iowa:
ROMNEY: “The Moderate”
There’s nothing moderate about Romney’s outright disdain for the middle class. Last November he publicly supported Governor Kasich in eviscerating workers’ rights in Ohio. He’s not hiding whose interests he’s most worried about: “Corporations are people,” he asserted this summer. “Of course they are.” And actions speak louder than words: As CEO of Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm, Romney led his company to maximize returns by firing workers, seeking government subsidies, and flipping companies for large profits.
If given the chance, Romney will take his corporations-first mentality all the way to the White House, carry out plans to privatize Social Security and abolish improvements to the health care system achieved under the Obama administration.
A candidate like Romney who so strongly supports school vouchers—which drain essential resources from public schools—is far more than a “moderate” threat to the future of public education. Romney also said in 2007 that the only value to a federal department of education would be in “holding down the interests of the teachers’ unions.”
SANTORUM: “For Values Voters”
Rick Santorum, who was still polling in the single digits in Iowa in early December, became the protagonist of the Iowa plot after influential leaders in the evangelical community deemed him the “family values candidate.”
Family values? This is the candidate who, in his post-caucus celebration speech, likened the Obama administration’s attempts to preserve key social programs that working Americans depend on (he specifically named Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps) to the fascist regime that drove his grandfather from Italy to America. Last year he compared pro-union protestors to addicts whose “drug is being taken away from them.”
It should have become impossible to call Santorum the “values voters’ candidate” after his blatantly racist comments at an earlier Iowa campaign stop, at which he said as president he wouldn’t “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”
Are those values that will serve the next generation of Americans?
RON “I’M NOT AN EXTREMIST” PAUL
Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s strong showing was another dramatic arc of the Iowa chapter: All those young voters working against their own futures by supporting a candidate whose positions are so damaging for the middle class and public schoolchildren.
Paul has fully supported the actions of extremist, anti-public education policies of governors in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida. What would he do if he found his way to the White House? He’s voted for tax-payer funded school vouchers and vowed to end key federal programs that help working families, like Medicare and Social Security.
Though he’s repeatedly denied holding fringe views, there are an awful lot of conspiracy theories and bigoted writings that carry his name.
Let’s be clear: There is a vast difference between a free thinker and a radical extremist who has managed to secure strong financial support.
Compare all the candidates’ views using our 2012 issue guide.