“Game on.” Those two words, spoken by Rick Santorum as he addressed a room full of Iowa supporters on the night of his stunning come from behind near victory, shook the establishment Republicans right down to their socks. In a moment, the coronation of Mitt Romney as the undefeatable choice to unseat President Obama was put on hold. A premature victory pronouncement was snatched from mouth of the mainstream media as Iowans realized they didn’t have to bow to the inevitable. They really could make a choice and the choice they made was to turn their collective backs on the pundits and the political prognosticators and pick Rick.

For months, polls reflected a strong resonance with Santorum as a man, his morals and his message. So why couldn’t he slog his way out of single digits and into the top tier of the Republican field? Over and over the answer was “I like Santorum but he just can’t win.” Then Bob Vander Plaats decided to step out of the shadows of the evangelical community and endorse Santorum. Like some kind of political energizer bunny, Vander Plaats’ endorsement keeps going and going and going. It brought others off the bench and into the game, as people were encouraged to suit up and follow his example.

What began as “game on” for conservatives could quickly become “game over” if South Carolina repeats the mistake of 2008. For those who need a refresher course, Mike Huckabee came out of nowhere in Iowa winning a great victory. He lost in New Hampshire, setting up a must win situation for him in a state that was made for his conservative message and evangelical values. But there were at least four candidates on the ballot with conservative credentials and the conservative vote was split just enough to give John McCain the victory and ultimately, Barak Obama the keys the White House.

It’s beginning to feel like déjà vu all over again. The surge Santorum received in Iowa will likely be blunted by a Romney win in New Hampshire. Once again, South Carolina will decide whether the Republican Party will return to its roots in Reagan or if we will turn to another moderate who offers “pale pastels over bold colors.” If conservatives unite we can give the Tea Party patriots who stormed into Washington in 2010 a Chief Executive who will stand with them in their fight to reign in an out of control government.

Rick Santorum should be president for three basic but important reasons. First, his policies are sound. His economic recovery plan includes a reduction of federal non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels by enacting across the board spending cuts. He has called for and pledged to sign into law the repeal of ObamaCare and to replace it with market based healthcare innovation and competitive, market based solutions that will leave healthcare choices where they belong…. between doctors and their patients. Santorum has called for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution and a capping of government spending to 18% of GDP. Just this past week the debt to GDP ratio crossed 100%. Without these bold economic moves within a very few years America will be reduced from a world economic leader to a third world economic shell.

Santorum has proposed reforming Social Security and putting it on a path to sustainability by a host of measures including moving back the retirement age for younger workers, offering voluntary alternatives for retirement funding, and making sure Social Security payroll taxes are dedicated to Social Security. His plan to restore America’s place as the undisputed leader in manufacturing includes reducing the corporate income tax on manufacturers from 35% to 0%. The tax on repatriated taxable corporate income will drop from 35% to 0% for companies that invest those repatriated funds in domestic business expansion.

Rick Santorum has promised to secure the border, enforce immigration laws, support states that are trying to deal with illegal immigration, and to make sure those who hire illegal workers are punished. He would defund Planned Parenthood while supporting adoption programs and defend the Defense of Marriage Act and a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as an institution that is solely between a man and a woman.

On foreign policy Santorum has promised to stand by Israel, stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and to restore the role of American leadership and respect in the world.

The second reason to support Santorum is the stability of his personal life. His commitment to his wife and family as a husband and father reveals a man of character who is willing to keep his word. You can’t be pro-family when your family is in disarray. Show me a man who is willing to lead in the home and I will show you a man who is a leader in the world.

Finally, Santorum deserves our support because of his passion for God. He has had his faith tested in the crucible of personal trial and in the pressure cooker of public attacks against him because of his strong stands on moral issues. His personal relationship with Jesus Christ has in the past and continues in the present to sustain and strengthen him. The book of James says, “Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2).

All of the candidates for the Republican nomination have their strengths. But only one can be the standard-bearer of true conservatism. As Gary Bauer said in his endorsement of Santorum the next Ronald Reagan has been right in front of us. We need to unite behind him and lift him to victory.

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