Our Israel Factor panel was never overly generous with candidate Santorum - as you can see in the graph below. The panel thought Santorum was too hawkish, too religious. No one would doubt his support for Israel, but such support is apparently not enough.
Anyway, Santorum’s departure caught me as I spend a short Pesach vacation with my family on Israel’s northern border (with Lebanon). And as I watched the news for a couple of minutes, three things came to mind:
1. Those Jewish voters anguishing over the November vote no longer have the “religious” reason (or excuse) not to opt for the Republican nominee. I don’t really think many Jews will be voting for Romney, but one thing is clear: the GOP eventually went with the candidate most acceptable to Jewish voters (Jewish voters were not the reason for that, of course).
2. With Santorum out and Gingrich no longer viable, the GOP message on some issues will go back to being not much different than the message of the Democratic Party. Romney, for example, never agreed to commit to moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. When he was one of many candidates, his was one view within a party in which other views seemed dominant. But now, it is clear that the party is not committed to such a move.
3. Israelis have been very busy in recent days with their renewed appeal for the release of spy Jonathan Pollard from an American jail. This is another issue on which Romney would not commit. Apparently, speaking for Pollard is much easier for former presidential candidates (McCain) - so maybe now is the time for Santorum to speak his mind?
The Israel Factor: Romney vs. Santorum, December, 2011-March, 2012