Sen. San­to­rum con­cedes af­ter talk­ing ‘about the fu­ture’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Amy Fa­gan

PITTS­BURGH—Sen.Rick­San­to­rum, a 12-year vet­eran of the Se­nate and the third-rank­ing Repub­li­can, lost his re-elec­tion bid on Nov. 7 to Demo­crat Bob Casey Jr., in a ma­jor blow to the Repub­li­can Party.

The fire­brand con­ser­va­tive who has led the charge in Wash­ing­ton again­stabor­tio­nand­same-sex“mar­riage” called Mr. Casey to con­cede the elec­tion slightly be­fore 10 p.m.

“This just was a lit­tle too steep of a moun­tain to climb,” he told a room­ful of sup­port­ers soon af­ter­wards, with his wife, Karen, and six tear­ful chil­dren by his side. “We will walk away from this job with noth­ing, noth­ing but thanks for all of the won­der­ful peo­ple of this state.”

Demo­crat­icGov.Ed­wardG.Ren­dell also se­cured a sec­ond term, beat­ing his Repub­li­can op­po­nent, for­mer Pitts­burgh Steeler and sports­caster Lynn Swann.

Mr. San­to­rum thanked God for his op­por­tu­nity to serve and said Mr. Casey is “a fine man” who will do “a fine job” in the Se­nate. He hushed­sup­port­ersinthe­crowd­who started boo­ing when he said that.

At his cel­e­bra­tion speech from his elec­tion head­quar­ters in his home­town of Scran­ton, Mr. Casey thanked Mr. San­to­rum for what he said was a gra­cious phone call.

“He talked about one thing, he talked about the fu­ture, and I ap­pre­ci­atethat­be­causeAmer­i­can­pol­i­tics more than ever [. . . ] has to be as much­abouthealin­g­a­siti­s­about­de­bates on is­sues,” Mr. Casey said, his wife and four daugh­ters at his side.

Polls had long showed Mr. San­to­rum­trail­ingMr.Casey,thes­tate­trea­surerand­sono­fapop­u­lar­former­gov­er­nor, and Democrats were tremen­dous­lyen­er­gized­tosweepthis race as well as the gov­er­nor’s race.

The San­to­rum camp had main­taine­dun­tiltheendthatit­stop-notch ground op­er­a­tion could turn out enough sup­port­ers to send the sen­a­tor back to Wash­ing­ton. In the end, how­ever,it­wasn’tenough.Mr.Casey cap­i­tal­ized on vot­ers’ dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Pres­i­dent Bush, Repub­li­can lead­er­ship and the war in Iraq, telling them that Mr. San­to­rum is a foot sol­dier in the pres­i­dent’s army andthatit­was­past­time­forachange.

Mr.San­to­rum­said­heignoredad­vice to only talk “about the pork” he de­liv­ered for Penn­syl­va­nia and in­stead fo­cused on na­tional se­cu­rity, telling vot­ers that he was the one to ag­gres­sively con­front im­pend­ing threats from North Korea, Iran and else­where.

He said he wouldn’t change a word of his cam­paign.

“What sen­a­tors and lead­ers are sup­posed to do is talk about things our­coun­trycon­frontsinthe­fu­ture,” he said.

Mr. San­to­rum thanked his vol­un­teers as he looked back on his Se­nate­ca­reer,tellingth­emhe­had“stood for” the fam­ily and “the most vul­ner­a­ble, par­tic­u­larly those in the ear­li­est stages of life and at the end of life.”

The48-year-old­didn’tsay­whathis fu­ture plans are, ex­cept to spend more­time­with­h­is­fam­ilyand­to­con­tinue to talk about na­tional-se­cu­rity is­sues.Sev­er­al­sup­port­erss­creamed “San­to­rum for Pres­i­dent” as he left the room.

Mr. Casey is the son of late Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Robert P. Casey and is known for his pro-life, anti-gun­con­trol views.

At­mid­day,Mr.San­to­rum­toldFox New­sthathe­had“very­se­ri­ous­con­cerns” about vot­ing-ma­chine prob­lems across the state. At least two coun­ties—Lan­cast­erandLe­banon, both Repub­li­can strongholds — ex­tended their vot­ing by one hour, to 9 p.m.,be­cause­o­fanini­tial­glitch­with the touch-screen vot­ing ma­chines that de­layed the start of vot­ing, said Les­lie Amoros, spokes­woman for the DOS. But Sec­re­tary of the Com­mon­wealth Pe­dro Cortes said that most prob­lems stemmed from hu­man­erro­randthat­most­prob­lems were­worked­outi­na­time­ly­man­ner.

There were sev­eral rea­sons for Mr. San­to­rum’s strug­gle here. Through the years, the two-term sen­a­tor has evoked in­creas­ingly vis­ceral re­ac­tions from Democrats for hisstri­dentstate­mentsand­stanceon ev­ery­thing from em­bry­onic stem­cell re­search and abor­tion — he be­lieves life be­gins at con­cep­tion — to proper par­ent­ing and the war in Iraq.

Plus,“he’scar­ry­ingth­e­bag­ga­geof the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia po­lit­i­cal sci­en­ce­pro­fes­sorJack­Nagel.Mr.Bush has just a 36 per­cent job-ap­proval rat­ing here, ac­cord­ing to the latest num­bers by Sur­veyUSA.

Astrid Riecken / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Sen. Rick San­to­rum, with his wife and six chil­dren, thanked sup­port­ers as he con­ceded his Se­nate race to Demo­crat chal­lenger Bob Casey Jr.

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