BOSTON (CBS) – Regulars here know by now that I’m not a huge fan of Rick Santorum, but the former Pennsylvania senator, who folded his presidential campaign yesterday, deserves credit for doing us all a favor.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

He proved that while right-wingers are a significant force in the Republican Party, they aren’t the dominant force.

You could make a case that, on social issues, Santorum was the most conservative Republican candidate in many years, at least since Pat Buchanan in 1992.

And he emerged from the field as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney with strong backing from the evangelical right and other groups who supposedly have a headlock on the GOP, if their Democratic critics are to be believed.

But he’s going home a loser.

And once again, as they do almost every four years with only very rare exceptions in modern times, the Republicans will nominate arguably their most moderate, non-ideological candidate.

Think Bush 1 over Buchanan and Pat Robertson, Ford over Reagan in ’76, McCain over Romney and Huckabee last time.

Even Richard Nixon, Bush 2 and Reagan in 1980 were closer to their party’s center than its extreme right by the time they won.

So spare us any more talk about how the Republicans are captives of the far right.

But while you’re at it, let’s skip the bogus spin about President Obama being a front man for the far left.

The health care bill may or may not be a good idea, but it is largely based on relatively conservative principles, like everyone should pay something to get something.

If there’s anything truly left wing about our war on terror these days, I don’t see it.

And last time I checked, despite all the rhetoric, Big Government was a bi-partisan creation.

There are definite differences between the two candidates.

We’ll be talking a lot about them over the next seven months.

But there’s one thing they have in common – they’re well within the political mainstream, and claims to the contrary are not to be taken seriously.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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