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Only Santorum 'Drubbing' Can Save GOP

Like Dems in 1980s, GOP has forgotten center: Joe Nocera
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2012 6:54 AM CST

(Newser) – The Republicans need to nominate Rick Santorum, and not just because he would ensure President Obama's re-election. No, an even more important reason is that Santorum represents the most extreme wing of today's GOP, and only his nomination and "drubbing" will force the party to return to a moderate center, writes Joe Nocera in the New York Times. Mitt Romney losing the election would only lead many in the party to conclude they need even more extremism. "If, however, Santorum is the nominee—and then loses in a landslide—the party will no longer be able to delude itself about where its ideological rigidity has taken it," Nocera writes.

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Nocera compares today's Republicans to the Democratic Party during the McGovern-Mondale era, when the party was "taken over by its most extreme liberal faction" and lost touch with the middle class. It took the brutal losses in 1972 and 1984 for moderates to re-take control of the party, leading the way for Bill Clinton in 1992. "A party’s base cannot, by itself, swing a presidential election," writes Nocera. "An alcoholic doesn’t stop drinking until he hits bottom. The Republican Party won’t change until it hits bottom. Only Santorum offers that possibility." (Read more Joe Nocera stories.)

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