And suddenly, the spotlight. The truth is, virtually no one saw that coming. Media have largely overlooked or discounted the conservative Republican candidate whose values were easier to marginalize than engage. ”You ask me what motivates me,” he said late in his remarks onstage at the end of the night. “It’s the dignity of each and every human life.”

Those paying attention knew that. Like the National Review Online editors who ran Santorum’s commentary explaining his worldview. Late in the piece he summarizes:

I have become a radical believer in every person’s human dignity. It is the driver of my worldview, and therefore in conclusion I believe:

Every person, whether the baby in utero, my little girl Bella with her challenges, or the AIDS orphan in the inner city, has inherent dignity, and we must do all we can to preserve and respect that dignity.

Government has to be strong enough to protect human life, but limited enough to never exploit it.

As our founders recognized religion as an “indispensable support” to the health of society and necessary for the understanding of human life, government should never inhibit or discourage its role in the public square.

My greatest concern is that we are at a crossroads of deep consequence regarding the role of government in the lives of the American people. Without correcting course, the road we are on will lead to the further devaluation of the inherent dignity of our citizens and their ability to live in freedom and safety. I am committed to doing everything possible to respect and protect that dignity, and opposing and reversing any policies and programs that undermine it.

NRO editor Kathryn Jean Lopez knows Santorum well, interviewed him before and posted this just before the Iowa caucuses, saying voters there “see in him something of what they’d like to see (again) in Washington.”

He’s on the road to New Hampshire now, and we’ll be hearing plenty more about him in the immediate days ahead. Which means attention, one way or another, on the guiding principle of human dignity. This should be good.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....