Commentary Magazine


Topic: GOP race

Gingrich Out, But What’s Next?

Newt Gingrich will officially drop out of the race next Tuesday, but he’s already cut his supporters loose. Rick Perry endorsed Mitt Romney last night, and Gingrich’s campaign says he’ll follow suit. But how much of a role will the Republican Party want to give Gingrich, after his harsh attacks on Romney and excessively-long campaign? According to Politico, it might be next to nothing:

“I think [he’s] unlikely to get even a non-prime slot to slash at Obama in Tampa,” former Gingrich-turned-Rick-Perry adviser Dave Carney said. “It’s quite possible that the Romney folks will want to focus on the future and move quickly away from the primary. Time will tell if the speaker gets his own speed-dial number at the surrogate operation in Boston this fall.” …

“Whatever talents he can put forth, he’s offered up,” [Gingrich spokesman R.C.] Hammond said.

The former House speaker is also starting to talk with congressional, gubernatorial and other local candidates about making campaign appearances throughout the fall, Hammond said, adding that in parts of the country, Gingrich still has star power.

“You’ll see him right at the head of the charge of this party as we try to take back the U.S. Senate,” Hammond said.

Read More

Newt Gingrich will officially drop out of the race next Tuesday, but he’s already cut his supporters loose. Rick Perry endorsed Mitt Romney last night, and Gingrich’s campaign says he’ll follow suit. But how much of a role will the Republican Party want to give Gingrich, after his harsh attacks on Romney and excessively-long campaign? According to Politico, it might be next to nothing:

“I think [he’s] unlikely to get even a non-prime slot to slash at Obama in Tampa,” former Gingrich-turned-Rick-Perry adviser Dave Carney said. “It’s quite possible that the Romney folks will want to focus on the future and move quickly away from the primary. Time will tell if the speaker gets his own speed-dial number at the surrogate operation in Boston this fall.” …

“Whatever talents he can put forth, he’s offered up,” [Gingrich spokesman R.C.] Hammond said.

The former House speaker is also starting to talk with congressional, gubernatorial and other local candidates about making campaign appearances throughout the fall, Hammond said, adding that in parts of the country, Gingrich still has star power.

“You’ll see him right at the head of the charge of this party as we try to take back the U.S. Senate,” Hammond said.

Which part of the country is Gingrich uniquely qualified to help Romney, beyond maybe Georgia, which is no longer relevant at this point? If the Romney campaign decides not to give the former speaker a role – and they have plenty of reasons not to, including Gingrich’s penchant for controversy and his past nastiness toward Romney – it’s no real loss for them. Romney certainly doesn’t need him. And imagine if Gingrich is given a surrogate position, and then decides to go off the reservation and take a gratuitous swipe at Romney during an interview. That’s not unrealistic, and it’s a risk for the campaign.

If Gingrich had cashed out in early March, after he won Georgia, he would be a better position than he is today. That would have shown he had some handle on reality. At this point, if he gets sidelined, he has his own ambition to blame.

Read Less

Gingrich Finally Exiting the Race?

Via First Read, Newt Gingrich finally seems to be moving toward the door, weeks after Mitt Romney cemented himself as the presumptive nominee:

“I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing,” Gingrich told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Monday. “We will be in North Carolina tomorrow night and we will look and see what the results are.”

He acknowledged that he would have to “reassess” his campaign depending on how he fares in Delaware, a winner-take-all state with 17 delegates at stake.

“This has been a good opportunity for us, we have been here seeing a lot of people,” Gingrich said. “We have got really positive responses and I would hope we would do well here – either carry it or come very, very close.”

Read More

Via First Read, Newt Gingrich finally seems to be moving toward the door, weeks after Mitt Romney cemented himself as the presumptive nominee:

“I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing,” Gingrich told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Monday. “We will be in North Carolina tomorrow night and we will look and see what the results are.”

He acknowledged that he would have to “reassess” his campaign depending on how he fares in Delaware, a winner-take-all state with 17 delegates at stake.

“This has been a good opportunity for us, we have been here seeing a lot of people,” Gingrich said. “We have got really positive responses and I would hope we would do well here – either carry it or come very, very close.”

Tonight’s primaries were supposed to be Rick Santorum’s last stand, but now that he’s out of the picture, they’re no longer a news story. Since Santorum suspended his candidacy, the focus has been on the general election, and without media attention there’s really no point for Gingrich to keep his campaign going. The conservatives who wanted to stretch out the primary race – Sarah Palin chief among them – have been drowned out by the general Republican acceptance of Romney as the presumptive nominee.

But while it would be pointless for Gingrich to continue his campaign, he hasn’t completely backed off from his unrealistic argument that Romney is still beatable:

“Gov. Romney is clearly the frontrunner but that doesn’t mean he is inevitable,” Gingrich told a roughly 50 person crowd inside the Delaware GOP headquarters. “It is very dangerous for frontrunners to start behaving like they are inevitable because the voters might decide that’s not so true. Frankly, I think it is a mistake for Romney to kick-off his general election campaign tomorrow in New Hampshire. He has about half the votes he needs to be nominated.”

Why does Gingrich continue to make these claims when it’s clear the rest of the world has moved on from the primary horserace? Maybe he’s just invested so much in his message that he feels he can’t let it go so easily. Maybe he’s still vying for some sort of deal with Romney, as unlikely as that would be right now. Or maybe he has his eye on a prime speaking role at the convention, and thinks that if he holds onto enough of his supporters for long enough, he’ll have a better chance of getting one. That last prospect seems like the most likely. Even if Gingrich manages to win in Delaware tonight, it doesn’t matter. The primary is over, and at this point the best he can hope for is a nice consolation spot at the convention.

Read Less

The Gingrich Sideshow Needs to Exit the Carnival

Anyone who thought Rick Santorum’s dramatic suspension of his presidential campaign would cause Newt Gingrich to fall into line and give up his own quixotic quest for the Republican nomination doesn’t understand the former Speaker of the House. Gingrich may have acknowledged that Mitt Romney was the likely GOP nominee in an interview just this past Sunday on Fox News, but he reacted to the Santorum announcement as if it was an opportunity by asking the senator’s supporters to jump over to his camp. Though it is unlikely that not many will join a cause that was lost months ago, this was all the excuse Gingrich needed to resume his pointless candidacy.

While there was a moment back during the winter when the withdrawal of either Gingrich or Santorum would have had an impact on the GOP race, that boat sailed sometime in February. Gingrich lost the contest for the title of the leading conservative “not Romney” to Santorum but has been hanging around giving the impression he has nothing better to do with his life than attempt to masquerade as a credible candidate. While most Republicans understand that for all intents and purposes this is the first day of the general election campaign, for Gingrich it represents the hope that he can squeeze a little more attention out of an American public that has already demonstrated it is sick and tired of him.

Read More

Anyone who thought Rick Santorum’s dramatic suspension of his presidential campaign would cause Newt Gingrich to fall into line and give up his own quixotic quest for the Republican nomination doesn’t understand the former Speaker of the House. Gingrich may have acknowledged that Mitt Romney was the likely GOP nominee in an interview just this past Sunday on Fox News, but he reacted to the Santorum announcement as if it was an opportunity by asking the senator’s supporters to jump over to his camp. Though it is unlikely that not many will join a cause that was lost months ago, this was all the excuse Gingrich needed to resume his pointless candidacy.

While there was a moment back during the winter when the withdrawal of either Gingrich or Santorum would have had an impact on the GOP race, that boat sailed sometime in February. Gingrich lost the contest for the title of the leading conservative “not Romney” to Santorum but has been hanging around giving the impression he has nothing better to do with his life than attempt to masquerade as a credible candidate. While most Republicans understand that for all intents and purposes this is the first day of the general election campaign, for Gingrich it represents the hope that he can squeeze a little more attention out of an American public that has already demonstrated it is sick and tired of him.

That any continuation of the Gingrich sideshow makes no sense has been apparent for months. His campaign has amassed $4.5 million in debt, according to reports. The situation is so bad that, as ABC News reported, a check written on March 27 by the campaign to secure his place on the ballot in Utah bounced when it was deposited by the state. This story, which comes after the news last week that the health care think tank started by Gingrich had filed for bankruptcy shows just how dire the former speaker’s finances are right now. Though he had divested himself of control of The Gingrich Group last year when he began his presidential run, the lion’s share of his net worth derives from a promissory note from the think tank that has gone bust.

Republicans need to spend the upcoming months preparing for the fall election and shoring up the unity of a party that Gingrich has done much to divide with attacks on Romney from both the right and the left. Any time spent in the next few months on a futile campaign or an effort to have an impact on the Republican convention or platform (Gingrich may be the last person on the planet who thinks those documents have any value or are worth fighting about) will distract Gingrich from his main task of the moment: paying off his campaign debt. While Republicans may wish him good luck in that task, it’s time for the reconstituted Gingrich sideshow to exit the carnival.

Read Less

Santorum Will Be Back if Romney Loses

Rick Santorum may have sounded like a man who was determined to fight Mitt Romney to the bitter end last week. But that defiant tone and the wild talk about comparisons of his effort to Ronald Reagan’s duel with Gerald Ford was apparently merely the last gasp of his underdog run for the presidency. Today, Santorum bowed to reality and announced the suspension of his campaign. With Newt Gingrich already having acknowledged that Romney was the likely nominee, Santorum’s speech marks the informal end of the Republican presidential contest.

Some may believe that his decision is related to his daughter Bella’s serious illness. But because Santorum embarked on his run and continued it despite her being hospitalized earlier this year, it is more likely that he and his inner circle took a hard look at his prospects in the upcoming Pennsylvania Primary and concluded that he was heading for a humiliating loss in his home state. Despite the brave talk from the Santorum camp about their chances of denying Romney a majority of delegates, it was already clear it was just a matter of time until he clinched the nomination. While the rest of the year will be about Romney taking on President Obama, it’s fair to ask whether today’s announcement is the last moment Santorum will have on the national political scene.

Read More

Rick Santorum may have sounded like a man who was determined to fight Mitt Romney to the bitter end last week. But that defiant tone and the wild talk about comparisons of his effort to Ronald Reagan’s duel with Gerald Ford was apparently merely the last gasp of his underdog run for the presidency. Today, Santorum bowed to reality and announced the suspension of his campaign. With Newt Gingrich already having acknowledged that Romney was the likely nominee, Santorum’s speech marks the informal end of the Republican presidential contest.

Some may believe that his decision is related to his daughter Bella’s serious illness. But because Santorum embarked on his run and continued it despite her being hospitalized earlier this year, it is more likely that he and his inner circle took a hard look at his prospects in the upcoming Pennsylvania Primary and concluded that he was heading for a humiliating loss in his home state. Despite the brave talk from the Santorum camp about their chances of denying Romney a majority of delegates, it was already clear it was just a matter of time until he clinched the nomination. While the rest of the year will be about Romney taking on President Obama, it’s fair to ask whether today’s announcement is the last moment Santorum will have on the national political scene.

It is telling that at no moment in his 20-minute speech today did Santorum mention the man who bested him. Though earlier in the race, he seemed to have become the nice guy in the race while Romney and Gingrich tore each other apart, it turns out that he, rather than the former speaker, was the one who took the rough and tumble of the campaign personally. While Santorum had to play the practical politician at times when he was in the Senate leadership, he is at heart, a true believer in the social conservative faith he espoused during the last year. It’s clear he has little use for Romney and isn’t aiming for either a role in the nominee’s fall campaign or a place in his administration. Though he concluded that the Ronald Reagan scenario he seemed to be sketching last week would be rendered implausible by defeat in Pennsylvania, he may still be thinking that he can pick up the pieces of a broken Republican Party after a Romney defeat this fall.

This is a scenario that will be scoffed at by many in the party who believe Santorum can never be elected president. Should Romney lose in November, there will be no shortage of Republican stars who will look like plausible candidates in 2016. But even if his social conservatism makes him a poor bet for the future, should the moderate winner of the GOP nomination fall short again this year, Santorum will be among the first names you hear next winter when pundits begin speculating about the next presidential election.

The bitter end of his effort ought not to obscure just how much Santorum accomplished in the last year. His was among the most unlikely candidacies when he first announced last summer. But he outlasted a succession of better-funded conservative alternatives and turned out to be the only person in the field who ever gave Romney much of a run for his money. The reason for his success stemmed from his ability to tap into the energy and the passion of evangelical voters desirous of a GOP candidate who espoused their views on social issues. If those evaluating the 2008 campaign gave Mike Huckabee credit for his far more limited success and even thought him a plausible GOP contender this year, why wouldn’t Santorum’s more impressive showing not earn him a place at the table four years from now?

Should Santorum run again, and now that he has had a taste of presidential politics, I think that’s more than likely, he would have a good chance of retaining the loyalty of evangelicals and would have four years to prepare a better financed and more organized presidential campaign.

But for any of that to happen, Romney has to lose. Should he win, today may well prove to be Santorum’s last hurrah.

Read Less

Romney Pulls Anti-Santorum Ads in Respect for Hospitalized Daughter

Mitt Romney didn’t have to cancel his anti-Santorum ads (at least there wasn’t any obvious political pressure for him to do so), but it was the right thing to do. The Romney campaign was set to bombard Rick Santorum with negative ads in Pennsylvania, a state Santorum will have even more trouble winning now that he’s canceled his campaign events for the next few days to stay by his young daughter Bella’s hospital bedside.

ABC News reports:

With Rick Santorum’s young daughter, Bella, in the hospital, Mitt Romney is yanking a negative television ad from the Pennsylvania airwaves “until further notice,” campaign officials said on Monday.

The ad, part of the Romney campaign’s plan to blanket Pennsylvania media markets ahead of the state’s April 24 primary, was originally meant to remind voters of Santorum’s landslide 2006 Senate re-election loss …

“We have done this out of deference to Sen. Santorum’s decision to suspend his campaign for personal family reasons,” Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement. Saul said the campaign informed television stations to pull the ad Monday morning and that broadcasters would “comply with this request as soon as they are technically able.”

Read More

Mitt Romney didn’t have to cancel his anti-Santorum ads (at least there wasn’t any obvious political pressure for him to do so), but it was the right thing to do. The Romney campaign was set to bombard Rick Santorum with negative ads in Pennsylvania, a state Santorum will have even more trouble winning now that he’s canceled his campaign events for the next few days to stay by his young daughter Bella’s hospital bedside.

ABC News reports:

With Rick Santorum’s young daughter, Bella, in the hospital, Mitt Romney is yanking a negative television ad from the Pennsylvania airwaves “until further notice,” campaign officials said on Monday.

The ad, part of the Romney campaign’s plan to blanket Pennsylvania media markets ahead of the state’s April 24 primary, was originally meant to remind voters of Santorum’s landslide 2006 Senate re-election loss …

“We have done this out of deference to Sen. Santorum’s decision to suspend his campaign for personal family reasons,” Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement. Saul said the campaign informed television stations to pull the ad Monday morning and that broadcasters would “comply with this request as soon as they are technically able.”

It’s a heartbreaking situation, and Romney really showed a lot of decency with this move. There is a lot at stake for Santorum in Pennsylvania, including pride, home-state redemption and the future of his presidential campaign. But that’s all static at the moment. Santorum is with his daughter, as he needs to be, and Romney is wisely holding his fire.

Read Less

Why Santorum Won’t Drop Out Now

Rick Santorum celebrated Easter and spent time with his family this weekend. He’ll spend Monday with his hospitalized 3-year-old daughter Bella whose fight for life has been an inspiring and sympathetic parallel journey to his campaign since its inception. All of this, along with the fact that there has been no major ad buys in the upcoming primary state of Pennsylvania, is fueling speculation that Santorum is considering pulling out. Given that he has virtually no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination and stands to suffer a terrible humiliation if, as is entirely possible, he loses his home state primary later this month, there are good reasons why Santorum should do just that. But the betting here right now is that he won’t.

Though a veteran and in many ways a highly practical politician, Santorum has a vision of his career and his party that has never exactly conformed to what other people thought he should do. While this might be the right moment to cash in his chips after a remarkable primary run that brought him more success than anyone outside his inner circle thought possible, the thinking here is that he has gone too far to pull out now when he still thinks he could win at home and then do some more damage in the May primaries. Even more to the point, he may have come to the conclusion that being a “team player” and standing aside for frontrunner Mitt Romney will not materially aid the party or his long-range plans.

Read More

Rick Santorum celebrated Easter and spent time with his family this weekend. He’ll spend Monday with his hospitalized 3-year-old daughter Bella whose fight for life has been an inspiring and sympathetic parallel journey to his campaign since its inception. All of this, along with the fact that there has been no major ad buys in the upcoming primary state of Pennsylvania, is fueling speculation that Santorum is considering pulling out. Given that he has virtually no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination and stands to suffer a terrible humiliation if, as is entirely possible, he loses his home state primary later this month, there are good reasons why Santorum should do just that. But the betting here right now is that he won’t.

Though a veteran and in many ways a highly practical politician, Santorum has a vision of his career and his party that has never exactly conformed to what other people thought he should do. While this might be the right moment to cash in his chips after a remarkable primary run that brought him more success than anyone outside his inner circle thought possible, the thinking here is that he has gone too far to pull out now when he still thinks he could win at home and then do some more damage in the May primaries. Even more to the point, he may have come to the conclusion that being a “team player” and standing aside for frontrunner Mitt Romney will not materially aid the party or his long-range plans.

As Santorum made clear in his speech last week after losing the Wisconsin, Maryland and District of Columbia primaries, he views himself in the role that Ronald Reagan played in 1976 when the future president carried his challenge to incumbent president Gerald Ford all the way to the Republican convention that year. Unlike Reagan, who was locked in a virtual dead heat with Ford, Santorum is far behind in the delegate count. But he has been speaking as if he saw Romney as a certain loser in November, which would give him the same opportunity to pick up the pieces of a defeated party and lead it to victory the next time around as Reagan did in 1980. In that scenario, which envisions his name as being at the top of the list of 2016 contenders next January, there is no advantage to dropping out and acknowledging Romney as the nominee now.

There are those who consider this plan delusional. As some of the pundits said on yesterday’s Fox News Sunday panel, in the event Romney loses this year, Santorum would face some formidable competition in 2016 from the young GOP stars such as Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal, all of whom didn’t run this year. Most of the pundits think he won’t have a chance then, but Santorum has never been one to take their advice. Santorum’s 11 primary and caucus wins may have been a fluke created by some unique circumstances such as the failure of any conservative challenger to emerge, but social conservatives and others on the right are not any more likely to listen to the party’s so-called establishment in 2016 than they were this year. If another moderate Republican nominee goes down to Obama, conservatives are going to spend the next four years vowing not to let it happen again, and Santorum will have a leg up with them even if it is hard to imagine him ever winning the nomination if a genuine and viable conservative alternative steps forward.

Of course, this scenario will take a major hit if he loses Pennsylvania on April 24, because it will invoke the memory of his 2006 landslide defeat for re-election to the Senate, an event that many thought ended Santorum’s career and presidential hopes. Romney will invest the time and resources there and much of the state party apparatus will be backing him against Santorum. But dropping out now with just two weeks to go before the opportunity to win his home state will be just as humiliating as actually getting beaten at the polls. If he wants to run again, and I believe he does, there is no alternative but to stay in until he is mathematically eliminated.

Doing so is not so much a matter of strategic calculation as it is a reflection of the man’s character. If he were the sort of person who made political decisions based on a careful evaluation of the odds, he wouldn’t have tilted so far to the right during his second term in the Senate. Nor would he have run for re-election in 2006 or bothered to try for the presidency this year. He ran because he believed in himself and his message even if few others shared his view. He still does, perhaps more than ever after the last few months of unexpected triumphs.

The gap between Santorum’s vision of what his party should be doing and the reality of Romney being the inevitable nominee is considerable, but I don’t believe it will persuade him to drop out before facing the verdict of Pennsylvania Republicans. He may go down in flames again, but he is a true believer who won’t give up until he is forced to do so.

Read Less

Gingrich, Santorum Now Mostly a Sideshow

As Alana noted earlier, there’s a lot of talk about Rick Santorum pulling off the campaign trail for several days, that he’s reassessing his campaign, and that there might even be a Santorum-Gingrich “unity effort” to try to stop Mitt Romney from winning the GOP nomination.

Count me among those who believe that what Santorum decides doesn’t matter all that much.

I say that because the race is decided, even if it’s not officially over. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. Reporters have stopped covering Newt Gingrich, and they will become increasingly uninterested in what Santorum says. And Governor Romney is wisely focusing all his attention on President Obama rather than his GOP opponents. So even if Santorum stays in the race, the dynamic has fundamentally shifted. The only way Santorum can get much attention is by increasingly shrill attacks on the person who has, in a long and fair contest, soundly defeated him. And that will hurt Santorum even more than Romney. Even now, Santorum’s complaints about the GOP “establishment” and its “aristocracy” seem out of touch. (People like Jim DeMint, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan hardly qualify as RINOs.)

Read More

As Alana noted earlier, there’s a lot of talk about Rick Santorum pulling off the campaign trail for several days, that he’s reassessing his campaign, and that there might even be a Santorum-Gingrich “unity effort” to try to stop Mitt Romney from winning the GOP nomination.

Count me among those who believe that what Santorum decides doesn’t matter all that much.

I say that because the race is decided, even if it’s not officially over. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. Reporters have stopped covering Newt Gingrich, and they will become increasingly uninterested in what Santorum says. And Governor Romney is wisely focusing all his attention on President Obama rather than his GOP opponents. So even if Santorum stays in the race, the dynamic has fundamentally shifted. The only way Santorum can get much attention is by increasingly shrill attacks on the person who has, in a long and fair contest, soundly defeated him. And that will hurt Santorum even more than Romney. Even now, Santorum’s complaints about the GOP “establishment” and its “aristocracy” seem out of touch. (People like Jim DeMint, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan hardly qualify as RINOs.)

Rick Santorum did better than anyone, including probably Santorum himself, thought possible. He ended up second (albeit in a historically weak field of challengers to Romney). And he has undone much of the damage, and the memory, of his 18-point defeat in 2006. But at this stage, the outcome of the November election will not hinge on what the former Pennsylvania senator does. It would be better for the Republican Party, its eventual nominee, and Santorum’s future if he exited the stage (a primary loss in his home state would bring back the ghosts of 2006 in a hurry).

But Santorum, like Gingrich before him, is increasingly irrelevant. Governor Romney has the spotlight, the (de facto) nomination, and the party behind him. We’ve reached the point where his GOP opponents are more or less a sideshow.

 

Read Less

Desperate Times…A Unity Ticket?

Desperate times call for desperate measures:

Rick Santorum is reassessing his campaign strategy this weekend, but he’s still committed to stopping Mitt Romney.

“BREAKING NEWS: Santo meeting in Virginia now w conservative leaders,” Time’s Mark Halperin tweeted. “Talk re the path forward, Santo-Newt unity effort to stop Romney.” Translation: Santorum meeting in Virginia now with conservative leaders. They are talking about the path forward, a Santorum-Newt unity effort to stop Romney.

Halperin added that a “Santor[um] source, responding to speculation: ‘He is NOT dropping out before Pennsylvania.’ [Meeting is about the] best way to proceed, not whether to.”

Read More

Desperate times call for desperate measures:

Rick Santorum is reassessing his campaign strategy this weekend, but he’s still committed to stopping Mitt Romney.

“BREAKING NEWS: Santo meeting in Virginia now w conservative leaders,” Time’s Mark Halperin tweeted. “Talk re the path forward, Santo-Newt unity effort to stop Romney.” Translation: Santorum meeting in Virginia now with conservative leaders. They are talking about the path forward, a Santorum-Newt unity effort to stop Romney.

Halperin added that a “Santor[um] source, responding to speculation: ‘He is NOT dropping out before Pennsylvania.’ [Meeting is about the] best way to proceed, not whether to.”

There have been rumors about a Santorum-Gingrich unity ticket before, but they always seemed highly unlikely for two reasons. The first was that Santorum would be taking a very big risk by promising Newt the VP slot, especially back when he had a chance to win the nomination cleanly and pick a more practical running mate, i.e., Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan. The second obstacle was Gingrich’s main bankroller, Sheldon Adelson, who has made it pretty clear he’s not a Santorum fan.

The difference now is that Santorum and Gingrich are both in much more dire straits than they were a month or two ago. Santorum has no chance of winning the nomination outright, and even in the highly unlikely scenario that he did, most of the names on the vice presidential short list have endorsed and campaigned for Romney.

Adelson has also said Gingrich is at the “end of his line” in the race. If the clock is running out on Adelson’s support for Gingrich, the former speaker has much less to lose by teaming up with Santorum.

Of course, if such a deal were actually to happen, Gingrich and Santorum would become the scourge of the Republican establishment (at least more so than they are already). And at this point, their chances of winning with a unity ticket aren’t much better than without a unity ticket.  For someone like Santorum with future presidential aspirations, it doesn’t seem like the wisest move in the long run.

Read Less

Romney Takes the Lead in Pennsylvania

Rick Santorum has bet his political future on winning the Republican presidential primary in his home state of Pennsylvania this month but according to the latest polling, he’s about to lose that wager. Public Policy Polling’s new survey shows Mitt Romney taking the lead in Pennsylvania for the first time, with a 42-37-percentage point advantage. Santorum’s level of support in Pennsylvania has been declining in recent weeks as polls conducted by Franklin & Marshall College and Quinnipiac University in the last week both showed the large leads he had earlier this year shrinking dramatically. But in the wake of Romney’s wins in three states on Tuesday, voters polled yesterday by PPP appear to be coming to the conclusion that with the general election fight against President Obama about to commence, Santorum’s continuing insurgency is undermining the GOP’s hopes of victory in the fall.

The polling, which showed Romney making up ground with every demographic where he has had trouble throughout the race — evangelicals, Tea Partiers and very conservative voters — demonstrates the fact that growing numbers of even those Republicans who were unsympathetic to the frontrunner are starting to make their peace with his inevitability. And with President Obama already beginning to launch attacks on him, the impulse to close ranks behind their eventual standard-bearer is overcoming home state loyalty to Santorum.

Read More

Rick Santorum has bet his political future on winning the Republican presidential primary in his home state of Pennsylvania this month but according to the latest polling, he’s about to lose that wager. Public Policy Polling’s new survey shows Mitt Romney taking the lead in Pennsylvania for the first time, with a 42-37-percentage point advantage. Santorum’s level of support in Pennsylvania has been declining in recent weeks as polls conducted by Franklin & Marshall College and Quinnipiac University in the last week both showed the large leads he had earlier this year shrinking dramatically. But in the wake of Romney’s wins in three states on Tuesday, voters polled yesterday by PPP appear to be coming to the conclusion that with the general election fight against President Obama about to commence, Santorum’s continuing insurgency is undermining the GOP’s hopes of victory in the fall.

The polling, which showed Romney making up ground with every demographic where he has had trouble throughout the race — evangelicals, Tea Partiers and very conservative voters — demonstrates the fact that growing numbers of even those Republicans who were unsympathetic to the frontrunner are starting to make their peace with his inevitability. And with President Obama already beginning to launch attacks on him, the impulse to close ranks behind their eventual standard-bearer is overcoming home state loyalty to Santorum.

Santorum’s problems in Pennsylvania are actually pretty similar to ones he’s encountered elsewhere. Only about a third of those polled think Santorum actually has a chance to win the nomination and less than a quarter believe he gives his party the best chance to beat Obama. The delegate math and the difficulty in believing that Santorum has any hope of winning in the fall provide the only explanations for the dramatic turnaround in the state in the last month as Santorum lost six points and Romney gained 17 as the outline of the race solidified.

With 19 days left until Pennsylvanians vote that leaves plenty of time for the lead to change again, so expect Santorum to double down on the harsh attacks on Romney as indistinguishable from the president. The former senator has been sending clear signals in recent days that he has little interest in being a team player for the GOP and winding down his insurgency. Indeed, his speech on Tuesday night in Pennsylvania — during which he never mentioned the fact that he had lost three primaries that day — seemed to indicate that his model was Ronald Reagan’s 1976 challenge to Gerald Ford and that his ultimate goal was to pick up the pieces of the party after Romney lost in November. The notion of redeeming a fallen GOP as Reagan did before he won the presidency in 1980 appeals to both Santorum’s vanity and his conviction that Romney is unworthy of his party’s nomination.

But that scenario will be impossible if Santorum can’t win in his home state. The idea that he can successfully carry his revolt into southern states in May after getting overthrown in Pennsylvania is fanciful. Just as Pennsylvanians are coming around to understanding that prolonging the race is a gift to Obama, conservatives elsewhere are also coming to that conclusion.

Though President Obama and the Democrats are hopeful that Santorum will keep pouring on the vitriol and make Romney’s life miserable all the way to the Republican National Convention in Tampa at the end of the summer, GOP voters realize that isn’t in their interests. That means that while the next three weeks will be very nasty indeed, there is now a better than even chance that Romney will score a knockout blow that will finally end the Republican contest.

Read Less

Santorum May Win PA, But Lose Delegates

It looks like Rick Santorum is committed to a slow death crawl to the Pennsylvania primary, but even if he manages to maintain his modest lead in the polls and pull off a victory, it could be meaningless in terms of his delegate count. The Huffington Post reports the delegates aren’t required to support any candidate, and there are signs Mitt Romney may be further ahead in collecting potential delegate support in Rick Santorum’s home state:

Bob Asher, as one of the state’s national committee members, is one of three Pennsylvania super delegates. He’s also a Romney supporter. Asher told the Morning Call that, “Based upon what I have heard, I think Gov. Romney will likely win the majority of the delegates in Pennsylvania.”

The Romney campaign declined to release a list of delegates in Pennsylvania who they believe will support the former governor, but Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) are both running to be national convention delegates, and both have come out in support of Romney. …

Campaign organization once again comes into play in these states with unbound delegates. Romney started collecting delegates in Pennsylvania back in 2011 when Santorum had a far smaller campaign, according to the Morning Call.

Santorum supporter State Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) said the Santorum campaign did court potential delegates to get them to commit to the former Pennsylvania senator.

“The problem is, when you’re running a low-budget campaign, you have to focus on the states in front of you, not 20 states in front of you,” Corman told Morning Call.

Read More

It looks like Rick Santorum is committed to a slow death crawl to the Pennsylvania primary, but even if he manages to maintain his modest lead in the polls and pull off a victory, it could be meaningless in terms of his delegate count. The Huffington Post reports the delegates aren’t required to support any candidate, and there are signs Mitt Romney may be further ahead in collecting potential delegate support in Rick Santorum’s home state:

Bob Asher, as one of the state’s national committee members, is one of three Pennsylvania super delegates. He’s also a Romney supporter. Asher told the Morning Call that, “Based upon what I have heard, I think Gov. Romney will likely win the majority of the delegates in Pennsylvania.”

The Romney campaign declined to release a list of delegates in Pennsylvania who they believe will support the former governor, but Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) are both running to be national convention delegates, and both have come out in support of Romney. …

Campaign organization once again comes into play in these states with unbound delegates. Romney started collecting delegates in Pennsylvania back in 2011 when Santorum had a far smaller campaign, according to the Morning Call.

Santorum supporter State Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) said the Santorum campaign did court potential delegates to get them to commit to the former Pennsylvania senator.

“The problem is, when you’re running a low-budget campaign, you have to focus on the states in front of you, not 20 states in front of you,” Corman told Morning Call.

The Morning Call has more on Santorum’s alleged lack of organization in the state, where ground game is crucial becausedelegates are elected on the day of the primary. In a sense, candidates have to run a dual-campaign in the state, with one part focused on typical get out the vote activity and the other focused on winning support from potential delegates.

One Pennsylvania Republican operative who asked for anonymity said Romney and Ron Paul were the most organized in rallying delegates. “I’ll be perfectly honest with you,” the person said. “The Santorum campaign wasn’t involved in the delegate process whatsoever.”

G. Terry Madonna, a veteran political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said Santorum and his campaign will attempt to spin it that, as in other states, he’s the grassroots guy the establishment is trying to stop. But in Pennsylvania, it’s a harder sell because for a long time Santorum was a leader in the state Republican Party.

“If in fact he does not win the lion’s share of delegates, it continues to show their lack of resources to organize, but you would think in Pennsylvania he wouldn’t need a lot of resources, that he would have support in county organizations,” Madonna said.

The number of delegates Santorum picks up is obviously much less critical for him at this point than simply winning a state, any state, in the hopes that it will give his fading campaign a shot of momentum. But it does go to show how unrealistic Santorum’s chances at the nomination are at this point. Struggling to win your home state, with the chance that it might not even add much to your delegate count, is a sign quitting time is getting close. The question is whether he does it before Pennsylvania, or after. And that’ll likely depend on whether he’s able to stay above water, or at least close to the surface, in the state polls during the next few weeks.

Read Less

Win in PA Isn’t Optional for Romney

While there are still plenty of states left to vote in the Republican presidential race and Rick Santorum is thinking as much about 2016 as 2012, the rest of the country is beginning to focus this morning on the only real matchup that is left this year: Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama. Romney’s three primary wins last night solidified his status as the inevitable GOP nominee, and President Obama acknowledged that fact with a blistering direct attack on the Republican frontrunner that laid out the outlines of his campaign strategy. With Obama and the Democratic campaign machine beginning to focus all of their attention on Romney, that will start to diminish interest in what’s left of the GOP race.

But though Romney may not mention Rick Santorum’s name again until the day the latter concedes the nomination to him, he’s going to need to take the upcoming Pennsylvania primary seriously. The temptation for Romney is to view it as merely the chance to administer the coup de grace to Santorum’s challenge. But it’s actually more serious than that.

Read More

While there are still plenty of states left to vote in the Republican presidential race and Rick Santorum is thinking as much about 2016 as 2012, the rest of the country is beginning to focus this morning on the only real matchup that is left this year: Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama. Romney’s three primary wins last night solidified his status as the inevitable GOP nominee, and President Obama acknowledged that fact with a blistering direct attack on the Republican frontrunner that laid out the outlines of his campaign strategy. With Obama and the Democratic campaign machine beginning to focus all of their attention on Romney, that will start to diminish interest in what’s left of the GOP race.

But though Romney may not mention Rick Santorum’s name again until the day the latter concedes the nomination to him, he’s going to need to take the upcoming Pennsylvania primary seriously. The temptation for Romney is to view it as merely the chance to administer the coup de grace to Santorum’s challenge. But it’s actually more serious than that.

It’s true that Santorum has virtually no chance to win the nomination even if he wins his home state on April 24. But as Santorum made clear in his speech last night, a win in his home state — even if it is narrow and even if he doesn’t actually win a majority of the delegates at stake there — will be used as a launching point for continuing an insurgency whose aim will be more to tear down Romney than to actually supplant him as the nominee. Santorum seems to be thinking about picking up the pieces of the party in the event Romney loses in the fall. That means both men know that victory in Pennsylvania is an imperative.

President Obama and his various surrogates are already starting to execute a campaign strategy of mockery aimed at Romney whose purpose is to portray him as too rich, weird, square and out of touch to be president. As the president indicated in his speech to newspaper editors yesterday, he sees no reason why the press should attempt to report both sides of the debate on the budget or taxes because he believes he has a monopoly on truth and justice.

The commencement of a blizzard of Democratic invective against Romney and the Republicans makes it imperative that the GOP close ranks and start to return fire on the incumbent. But if Santorum is able to use a win in Pennsylvania to fuel continuing attacks on Romney throughout the spring and even the summer, he will be doing Obama an enormous favor.

That means the next three weeks are likely to be the nastiest yet in what has been a long, nasty Republican race. Romney knows he must squelch Santorum now while he has a chance to humiliate him at home or else face a difficult couple of months that will undermine his chances of victory in the fall. If the gloves weren’t already off between these two, they certainly will be now.

Read Less

Is Santorum Contesting 2012 or 2016?

Mitt Romney’s victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will add more than 80 delegates to his total and extend his commanding lead over Rick Santorum for the Republican presidential nomination. That sets up Pennsylvania as the primary that has the chance to put the Republicans out of their misery and finally end the GOP race. Since the other states that will vote on April 24 — New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware — will almost certainly go for Romney, Santorum’s homecoming may be his last stand.

While Pennsylvania is being given the opportunity to finally put a fork in the long, agonizing Republican presidential race, listening to Santorum’s speech in his home state tonight one got the feeling the candidate was thinking as much about 2016 as he was the 2012 contest. By repeatedly invoking Ronald Reagan’s presidential runs in 1976 and 1980, Santorum seemed to be preparing more to tell the GOP, “I told you so,” if Romney loses in November, than about his own chances this year.

Read More

Mitt Romney’s victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will add more than 80 delegates to his total and extend his commanding lead over Rick Santorum for the Republican presidential nomination. That sets up Pennsylvania as the primary that has the chance to put the Republicans out of their misery and finally end the GOP race. Since the other states that will vote on April 24 — New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware — will almost certainly go for Romney, Santorum’s homecoming may be his last stand.

While Pennsylvania is being given the opportunity to finally put a fork in the long, agonizing Republican presidential race, listening to Santorum’s speech in his home state tonight one got the feeling the candidate was thinking as much about 2016 as he was the 2012 contest. By repeatedly invoking Ronald Reagan’s presidential runs in 1976 and 1980, Santorum seemed to be preparing more to tell the GOP, “I told you so,” if Romney loses in November, than about his own chances this year.

Though Santorum’s chances of winning the GOP nomination are rapidly diminishing, his anger at what he called the party “aristocracy” that backed Romney seems to be increasing. Rather than easing up on the all-but inevitable nominee as Republicans prepare to face off against the Obama re-election juggernaut, Santorum appears to be doubling down on his resentment at the fact that his party is choosing the more moderate candidate.

Part of that can be attributed to a desire on Santorum’s part not to have his remarkable primary run end with a humiliating loss in three weeks in his home state that would all but end the GOP competition. Yet it’s doubtful that even many Santorum’s backers are still under the delusion that he has a ghost of a chance to prevail in the “second half” of the delegate race. But by continuing to brand Romney as indistinguishable from Obama, Santorum may have more in mind than just trying to save face in Pennsylvania or winning a few more primaries in May.

During the course of his Tuesday night speech, Santorum compared himself to George Washington as well as Ronald Reagan. But when he brought up Reagan’s challenge to the moderate GOP establishment of his day, he didn’t limit himself to the example of the 40th president’s successful 1980 run but also mentioned his close loss to Gerald Ford in 1976. Reagan took the battle for the GOP nomination to the convention that year much as Santorum would like to do in 2012. The difference between the two is that the delegate race that year was almost evenly divided between Reagan and Ford while this year’s contest is a runaway for Romney.

Yet what Santorum seems to be doing is not so much comparing his chances this year to Reagan’s in 1976 as he is to the Gipper’s picking up the pieces of his party after Ford lost the general election to Jimmy Carter. Just as Reagan conservatives argued in 1980 that the party had erred by choosing the moderate four years earlier, Santorum appears more interested in being able to tell the GOP it is making a mistake on Romney than anything else. So rather than being a good “team player” for his party and laying off Romney as the race winds down, Santorum is increasing the volume of his attacks on the frontrunner.

Even though there are good reasons to believe Santorum’s shortcomings as a candidate will never enable him to win the presidency, should Romney lose to Obama, there’s little doubt that the Pennsylvanian’s name will be at the top of the list of GOP contenders for 2016 next January. Santorum may well believe his hopes for another run will not be enhanced by doing the right thing by the GOP and giving up once it’s clear he hasn’t a prayer to win this year. Instead, he will concentrate on a kamikaze run aimed solely at proving that Romney ought not to be the nominee.

Just as Romney appears to have pivoted away from beating his Republican competitors to  being solely focused on the battle with Obama, Santorum may well be running with 2016 more in mind than 2012. Should Romney win in November, all this will be in vain, but right now Santorum appears to be betting heavily on Obama’s re-election and another primary run four years from now.

Read Less

Why Did Santorum Refuse RNC Offer?

As Alana noted earlier, Mitt Romney will be taking time out of his primary schedule to fundraise with and for the Republican National Committee (RNC). According to the RNC, this fundraising opportunity was offered to every candidate, however, Romney was the only one to accept the offer. The Wall Street Journal reported, “In a move that shows Republicans are coalescing around the party’s front-runner, Mitt Romney plans to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee this week as both the candidate and the GOP brace for an expensive general-election fight against President Barack Obama.” This doesn’t seem to be the case, however, as the Republican group offered to do the same with Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Why might Santorum (and for that matter Gingrich) have refused the opportunity to take up the RNC’s offer? Each candidate, when fundraising alone, is unable to raise more than $2,500 per donor for their primary and general election campaigns. Fundraising with the RNC means that individual donors can give up to $75,000 to not only the campaigns of specific candidates but also toward the RNC and the state-level parties in swing states. The caveat for the candidate fundraisers is this: the money raised in excess of the $2,500 goes only toward the eventual nominee. If Santorum or Gingrich took time out of their schedules to fundraise with and for the RNC and did not become the nominee, the money they raised goes to the nominee, not back to their campaigns to pay off outstanding debts or serve as a starting off point for a future run.

Read More

As Alana noted earlier, Mitt Romney will be taking time out of his primary schedule to fundraise with and for the Republican National Committee (RNC). According to the RNC, this fundraising opportunity was offered to every candidate, however, Romney was the only one to accept the offer. The Wall Street Journal reported, “In a move that shows Republicans are coalescing around the party’s front-runner, Mitt Romney plans to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee this week as both the candidate and the GOP brace for an expensive general-election fight against President Barack Obama.” This doesn’t seem to be the case, however, as the Republican group offered to do the same with Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Why might Santorum (and for that matter Gingrich) have refused the opportunity to take up the RNC’s offer? Each candidate, when fundraising alone, is unable to raise more than $2,500 per donor for their primary and general election campaigns. Fundraising with the RNC means that individual donors can give up to $75,000 to not only the campaigns of specific candidates but also toward the RNC and the state-level parties in swing states. The caveat for the candidate fundraisers is this: the money raised in excess of the $2,500 goes only toward the eventual nominee. If Santorum or Gingrich took time out of their schedules to fundraise with and for the RNC and did not become the nominee, the money they raised goes to the nominee, not back to their campaigns to pay off outstanding debts or serve as a starting off point for a future run.

If Santorum or Gingrich believed they were going to clinch the nomination this time around, taking a few days out of their campaigning schedule to raise this amount of cash would be a no-brainer (it certainly was for Romney). The fact that Santorum and Gingrich turned down the opportunity means that in all likelihood, even they don’t believe they’ll be the nominee. They either don’t want Romney to get the cash they’ve raised or they believe their campaigns couldn’t survive even a day or two out of the news cycle to attend the fundraisers.

While one can’t fault Santorum or Gingrich for prioritizing their own campaigns while the race is still ongoing, their refusal to raise this kind of cash speaks volumes about where their campaigns see the future of this primary season going.

Read Less

Santorum’s Lead Narrows in Pennsylvania

Via Quinnipiac, Rick Santorum is now leading Mitt Romney by just six points among likely Pennsylvania Republican voters. The last Quinnipiac survey in mid-March showed Santorum with a 14-point lead, though keep in mind that poll was also taken among registered, not likely, Republican voters.

Favorite Son Rick Santorum leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 41 – 35 percent among likely voters in Pennsylvania’s Republican presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has 10 percent, with 7 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Santorum tops Romney 43 – 33 percent among men, while women split 39 – 38 percent. Santorum also leads 53 – 24 percent among white evangelical Christians, 50 – 32 percent among Tea Party members and 48 – 30 percent among self-described conservatives. Romney is ahead 45 – 29 percent among self-described moderates.

Read More

Via Quinnipiac, Rick Santorum is now leading Mitt Romney by just six points among likely Pennsylvania Republican voters. The last Quinnipiac survey in mid-March showed Santorum with a 14-point lead, though keep in mind that poll was also taken among registered, not likely, Republican voters.

Favorite Son Rick Santorum leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 41 – 35 percent among likely voters in Pennsylvania’s Republican presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has 10 percent, with 7 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Santorum tops Romney 43 – 33 percent among men, while women split 39 – 38 percent. Santorum also leads 53 – 24 percent among white evangelical Christians, 50 – 32 percent among Tea Party members and 48 – 30 percent among self-described conservatives. Romney is ahead 45 – 29 percent among self-described moderates.

There seems to be a trend of Santorum losing ground in Pennsylvania, as we saw with the Franklin & Marshall College poll late last month. And assuming Romney sweeps all three primaries tonight, as it looks like he’s going to, this could become an extremely competitive race in Pennsylvania. There are still three weeks until the primary, plenty of time for Romney to rack up more endorsements and momentum.

And there are already other good signs for Romney in the state, according to Quinnipiac. He has a 59 percent favorability, and the majority believes that the “Etch A Sketch” criticism of Romney is an unfair attack. But that could also be because likely GOP voters expect politicians, including Romney, to flip on issues. They said 27 to 7 that Romney changes his position more than most public figures, with 60 percent saying he changes his positions about the same as most public figures.

Read Less

Is Santorum Building a Case for 2016?

Rick Santorum may have little hope of stopping Mitt Romney from gaining the Republican presidential nomination but he displayed no signs that he was giving up in a series of combative appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday. After having won ten primaries and caucuses, no one ought to begrudge him the right to play out the hand he has been dealt by the voters. But after Tuesday’s expected blowout in which losses in winner-take-all contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia could add almost 100 delegates to Romney’s total, the question for Santorum is whether he really intends to spend the next two months or more spouting angry and dismissive rhetoric about his party’s likely nominee.

With Tea Party favorite Sen. Ron Johnson endorsing Romney yesterday, the odds of an upset in Wisconsin are getting slimmer. Johnson’s backing along with that of Rep. Paul Ryan was a clear sign that leading conservatives in the state, as is the case elsewhere, have come to the conclusion it is time for the GOP to end the fratricide and start concentrating on the formidable task of beating President Obama in November and that perhaps Santorum should begin to think of his own political future. Santorum has rightly dismissed any talk about a 2016 presidential run. However, listening to the Pennsylvanian’s pitch to conservatives about Romney’s shortcomings, it is hard not to wonder whether he is laying the foundation for a future race whose main theme will be that Republicans were wrong not to pick him in 2012.

Read More

Rick Santorum may have little hope of stopping Mitt Romney from gaining the Republican presidential nomination but he displayed no signs that he was giving up in a series of combative appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday. After having won ten primaries and caucuses, no one ought to begrudge him the right to play out the hand he has been dealt by the voters. But after Tuesday’s expected blowout in which losses in winner-take-all contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia could add almost 100 delegates to Romney’s total, the question for Santorum is whether he really intends to spend the next two months or more spouting angry and dismissive rhetoric about his party’s likely nominee.

With Tea Party favorite Sen. Ron Johnson endorsing Romney yesterday, the odds of an upset in Wisconsin are getting slimmer. Johnson’s backing along with that of Rep. Paul Ryan was a clear sign that leading conservatives in the state, as is the case elsewhere, have come to the conclusion it is time for the GOP to end the fratricide and start concentrating on the formidable task of beating President Obama in November and that perhaps Santorum should begin to think of his own political future. Santorum has rightly dismissed any talk about a 2016 presidential run. However, listening to the Pennsylvanian’s pitch to conservatives about Romney’s shortcomings, it is hard not to wonder whether he is laying the foundation for a future race whose main theme will be that Republicans were wrong not to pick him in 2012.

Trying to figure out what will happen in 2016 now is a futile task. But there is little doubt that if Romney loses in the fall, Santorum will spend the next four years endlessly saying, “I told you so.” Though there is little reason to believe Santorum’s brand of social conservatism would give him a better chance against Obama than Romney, should the inevitable nominee fall short, the right-wing of the GOP is certain to blame defeat on what they believe is the party’s establishment for foisting a moderate on them.

The notion that the GOP’s grass roots were betrayed by the Washington elites in 2012 is a theme that will be endlessly rehearsed in the coming years should Obama win a second term. Those who make such arguments will be wrong. The reason why Romney is going to be the nominee has more to do with the failure of a credible conservative candidate to enter the race than any machinations by a mythical establishment. Though it is hard to imagine Santorum becoming polished or organized enough to bridge the gap between being a feisty challenger and a nominee, it must be conceded that in January his name will be prominently mentioned when possible Republican candidates for 2016 are listed. And while his extreme positions on social issues will always be a barrier to winning a general election, should the GOP find itself in opposition next year, those who argued that a more centrist approach was needed in 2012 are not likely to find much of an audience among Republicans.

The assumption might be that if Santorum really does intend to try again the last thing he should be doing in the coming months is speaking and acting in such a way as to allow the country to think he was trying to sabotage Romney. Indeed, should he insist on dragging things out long after his defeat is assured, many Republicans will remember this, to Santorum’s discredit.

Santorum will be walking a fine line in the coming weeks as he attempts to avoid the humiliation of losing his home state of Pennsylvania on April 24. A defeat there would not only be the coup de grace to his campaign but also put a kibosh on any hopes of trying again for the presidency. But listening to Santorum in recent days, it occurs to me that perhaps he thinks it is more important to be able to say “I told you so” in the event of a Romney loss in the general election than to be a “team player” during the primary endgame.

Read Less

Paul Ryan’s Timely Endorsement

Coming as it did months after the Florida primary, Senator Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Mitt Romney earlier this week could be said to be more an indication of the frontrunner’s inevitability than a gesture that provided any tangible assistance. But the same cannot be said of Rep. Paul Ryan’s announcement today that he is supporting Romney.

With just four days left before the Wisconsin Primary on Tuesday, Ryan’s backing is a telling blow to any hopes Rick Santorum might have harbored about an upset in the Badger state. Ryan is a popular figure in his home state, and while endorsements do not guarantee votes, there’s no denying it will give Romney a boost at a time when he is maintaining a steady but not overwhelming lead. The warmth of the endorsement and the way Ryan addressed the fears of conservatives about his candidate’s moderate tendencies should also go a long way toward putting a fork in a GOP race that appears to be winding down.

Read More

Coming as it did months after the Florida primary, Senator Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Mitt Romney earlier this week could be said to be more an indication of the frontrunner’s inevitability than a gesture that provided any tangible assistance. But the same cannot be said of Rep. Paul Ryan’s announcement today that he is supporting Romney.

With just four days left before the Wisconsin Primary on Tuesday, Ryan’s backing is a telling blow to any hopes Rick Santorum might have harbored about an upset in the Badger state. Ryan is a popular figure in his home state, and while endorsements do not guarantee votes, there’s no denying it will give Romney a boost at a time when he is maintaining a steady but not overwhelming lead. The warmth of the endorsement and the way Ryan addressed the fears of conservatives about his candidate’s moderate tendencies should also go a long way toward putting a fork in a GOP race that appears to be winding down.

Given the fact that Romney has been more supportive of Ryan’s entitlement reform efforts as well as his proposed budget, the endorsement should have surprised no one. But Ryan’s attempt to draw a distinction between Romney and past GOP losers who tilted to the center is noteworthy. As Politico reports:

Ryan told Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes that Romney, unlike past GOP presidential nominees Bob Dole and John McCain, is a true conservative.

“I was not a fan of Bob Dole being our nominee in ‘96, I didn’t support John McCain throughout the primary, I supported other people last time,” he said. “This is not the same kind of candidate.”

Ryan also said that his decision to support Romney isn’t him “settling,” saying the candidate won’t “cut and run” from conservative principles if he’s elected.

“I do believe we’re not settling,” he said. “If I did, I wouldn’t do this.”

Of course, Democrats will regard the Ryan endorsement as a kiss of death to Romney as they fully intend on running in the fall on the same sort of Mediscare tactics that they have employed in the last year. Demonizing Ryan will be a cornerstone of the Obama campaign. But the idea that the reformist congressman will hurt Romney and the GOP nationally is based on an assumption that most Americans are more afraid of losing their entitlements than they are about the economic future of the country.

They would also be delighted should Romney tap Ryan for the vice presidential nomination. But while Ryan is not viewed as being as much of a potential asset as Rubio, Democrats would making a mistake if they think they can do to the Wisconsin congressman what they did to Sarah Palin four years ago. Ryan is brilliant, articulate and deeply principled. The more Americans are exposed to his ideas, the less Democrats are going to like it.

Ryan’s proposals may be controversial in Washington, but the Democrats’ belief that they can duplicate the success throughout the nation they had with this issue in one special congressional election in Western New York last spring may not be justified. His presence on the GOP ticket might play into Obama’s strategy of making the election a referendum on the GOP’s budget. But it would also allow Romney and his running mate to stake out a position on the nation’s future that could galvanize mainstream support.

Paul Ryan may be an important factor in the Wisconsin GOP primary. But he might turn out to be even more important in the fall.

Read Less

NBC/Marist: Romney Up 7 in Wisconsin

This poll is similar to one put out by Marquette Law School earlier this week, which also shows Mitt Romney with a small (but growing) advantage over Rick Santorum:

In Wisconsin’s April 3 Republican contest, the former Massachusetts governor gets support from 40 percent of likely primary voters, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a particular candidate. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets 33 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul gets 11 percent,  and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gets 8 percent. Seven percent of respondents are undecided.

The poll follows the trend we’ve been seeing in other states: Romney polls better with moderate Republicans, while Santorum polls better with Tea Partiers and evangelical Christians.

Read More

This poll is similar to one put out by Marquette Law School earlier this week, which also shows Mitt Romney with a small (but growing) advantage over Rick Santorum:

In Wisconsin’s April 3 Republican contest, the former Massachusetts governor gets support from 40 percent of likely primary voters, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a particular candidate. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets 33 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul gets 11 percent,  and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gets 8 percent. Seven percent of respondents are undecided.

The poll follows the trend we’ve been seeing in other states: Romney polls better with moderate Republicans, while Santorum polls better with Tea Partiers and evangelical Christians.

Wisconsin is really the last state that will actually matter for Santorum in April. It’s the only state he has a chance of winning (though it does seem to be dwindling) before Pennsylvania. And the demographics are stacked against him. NBC points out that Santorum has been successful in states where evangelical voters have made up a high percentage of the electorate, and this isn’t the case in Wisconsin:

So far in all the GOP contests where there has been exit polling, Romney has won in every contest where evangelical voters have accounted for less than 50 percent of the electorate. And he has lost in every contest where that number has been higher than 50 percent.

The evangelical percentage among likely Wisconsin GOP primary voters, according to the NBC/Marist poll: 41 percent.

Of course, one of the reasons why the polls missed Santorum’s surge in Alabama and Mississippi was because some of them had actually underestimated the percentage of evangelicals in the electorate by as much as 10 percent. Perhaps those blunders prompted pollsters to be more careful with their estimates in future states, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Read Less

Adelson: Newt’s “At the End of His Line”

Billionaire casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson is still defending Newt Gingrich as the best candidate in the field, but it sounds like he may be getting ready to move on now that Gingrich’s chances at the nomination have evaporated.

“I mean, it appears as if he’s at the end of his line,” Adelson said at a Jewish Federation event, according to video posted by the Jewish Journal. “Because mathematically he can’t get anywhere near the numbers, and it’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”

But Adelson also didn’t sound impressed by either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. He compared Romney to President Obama when he was in the Senate, saying he simply isn’t decisive enough.

“I’ve talked to Romney many, many times,” said Adelson. “Everything I’ve said to Mitt, he’s said, ‘Let me look into.’ So he’s like Obama. When Obama was in the Illinois senate, 186 times he voted present. Because he didn’t want to damage his record.”

The billionaire had even harsher words for Santorum.

Read More

Billionaire casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson is still defending Newt Gingrich as the best candidate in the field, but it sounds like he may be getting ready to move on now that Gingrich’s chances at the nomination have evaporated.

“I mean, it appears as if he’s at the end of his line,” Adelson said at a Jewish Federation event, according to video posted by the Jewish Journal. “Because mathematically he can’t get anywhere near the numbers, and it’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”

But Adelson also didn’t sound impressed by either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. He compared Romney to President Obama when he was in the Senate, saying he simply isn’t decisive enough.

“I’ve talked to Romney many, many times,” said Adelson. “Everything I’ve said to Mitt, he’s said, ‘Let me look into.’ So he’s like Obama. When Obama was in the Illinois senate, 186 times he voted present. Because he didn’t want to damage his record.”

The billionaire had even harsher words for Santorum.

“This man has no history whatsoever of creating anything or taking risks. Now that being said, I know Rick. I like him. We’re friendly. But I got to tell you something, I don’t want him running my country.”

Adelson also said he’d talked to both Gingrich and Romney about potentially coming to a deal to run on the same ticket. He said Gingrich told him that would go against his strategy, and Romney didn’t give him a direct answer.

It makes you wonder whether that sort of deal was raised at the secret meeting Romney and Gingrich reportedly had on Saturday. The Washington Times reports Gingrich made no deal to end his bid, but just the fact that there was a meeting suggests that may have been on the table:

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich met secretly with GOP rival Mitt Romney on Saturday, according to a source close to the campaign, but the former House speaker says he has made no deal to end his bid for the GOP nomination.

Mr. Gingrich, responding to questions from the Washington Times, did not deny the meeting, but explicitly said he hasn’t been offered a position in a potential Romney administration in exchange for dropping out.

Nor, he said, is there a deal to have Mr. Romney’s big donors help retire Mr. Gingrich’s campaign debt of more than $1 million.

As Gingrich’s primary financial backer indicated, his campaign has no realistic path to the nomination at this point. The former speaker already announced yesterday that he’s running out of money and downsizing his staff. While a few weeks ago, he may have been able to cut a deal with Santorum or Romney to either act as a spoiler in the race or drop out, and at this point, he has basically nothing to offer either of them. The idea that Romney would promise Gingrich a position or even pay down his debt seems incredibly unlikely.

Read Less

Rubio’s Endorsement Makes Romney That Much More Inevitable

The ranks of those who have any doubt about the outcome of the Republican presidential race got a bit thinner yesterday when Senator Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney. The Tea Party favorite’s backing of Romney is yet another sign that even hard-core conservative Republicans have come to the conclusion the only way to win in November is to close ranks behind the frontrunner. With Rick Santorum looking at almost certain defeat in the next round of primaries to be held next week and Newt Gingrich having basically thrown in the towel, the prospect of Romney as the GOP nominee has now gone from being likely to almost certain.

Rubio’s endorsement, along with recent comments from other Senate conservative stalwarts like Jim DeMint and Pat Toomey vouching for Romney’s bona fides, should help ease the way for the rest of their party’s right-wing to start coming back in from the ledge onto which they had walked during the winter. As many on the right have spent much of the last year speaking of Romney in the most harsh terms, it’s not going to be easy for them to walk back the charge that he is indistinguishable from President Obama and a certain loser in November. But as is always the case in politics, once the bandwagon starts rolling, it gets easier to hop on. But even as he formally put himself behind Romney, Rubio also continued to discourage talk of the vice presidency.

Read More

The ranks of those who have any doubt about the outcome of the Republican presidential race got a bit thinner yesterday when Senator Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney. The Tea Party favorite’s backing of Romney is yet another sign that even hard-core conservative Republicans have come to the conclusion the only way to win in November is to close ranks behind the frontrunner. With Rick Santorum looking at almost certain defeat in the next round of primaries to be held next week and Newt Gingrich having basically thrown in the towel, the prospect of Romney as the GOP nominee has now gone from being likely to almost certain.

Rubio’s endorsement, along with recent comments from other Senate conservative stalwarts like Jim DeMint and Pat Toomey vouching for Romney’s bona fides, should help ease the way for the rest of their party’s right-wing to start coming back in from the ledge onto which they had walked during the winter. As many on the right have spent much of the last year speaking of Romney in the most harsh terms, it’s not going to be easy for them to walk back the charge that he is indistinguishable from President Obama and a certain loser in November. But as is always the case in politics, once the bandwagon starts rolling, it gets easier to hop on. But even as he formally put himself behind Romney, Rubio also continued to discourage talk of the vice presidency.

Twice on Wednesday, Rubio characterized the notion of his being nominated for the vice presidency as something “that’s not going to happen.” The manner in which he said this went way beyond the usual attempt of potential veep candidates to deflect attention from their obvious desire to be picked. Listening to him both on the Sean Hannity show (where he made his endorsement of Romney) and with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, you got the feeling Rubio meant it when he said he had no intention of leaving the Senate.

Yet, it must also be understood that Rubio’s comments stopped well short of a Shermanesque refusal to serve under any circumstances. And given the fact that he has attempted to get out ahead of the various smears that have been circulating in the blogosphere, there is still reason to think a Rubio vice presidential nomination is a possibility. There is also the fact that by getting behind Romney while there is still some value to be had from such endorsements, Rubio has, whether he likes it or not, increased speculation about his future.

But whether Rubio is serious about not wanting the vice presidency or not, his endorsement is just one more reason for Republicans to believe the endgame of the nomination battle is at hand. Though Rick Santorum can still talk about winning primaries in May and Romney’s delegate math not adding up, with leading conservatives now conceding the race is over, it’s going to be harder for any challenger to maintain any momentum. Though Santorum will continue to try to sow doubt about Romney in the upcoming weeks, the inevitability factor is now at the point where it has become a serious impediment to his hopes to win any primary, including his home state of Pennsylvania.

Read Less

Newt Gingrich Needs an Intervention

Newt Gingrich has been dragging out his futile campaign, long after the rest of the world realized it was over. Long after it started getting slightly uncomfortable to see him still on TV giving speeches. But there was always some hope he might snap back to reality once the money ran out. Apparently that’s not the case:

Newt Gingrich is cutting back his campaign schedule, will lay off about a third of his cash-strapped campaign’s full-time staff, and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy, communications director Joe DeSantis told POLITICO. …

“We’re focusing exclusively on what it’ll take to win what we’re going to be calling a big-choice convention in August,” DeSantis said in a phone interview Tuesday night.

There is no real reason to believe that these drastic measures to turn around a flailing campaign can save the former House speaker’s candidacy for a third time.

Following a string of embarrassing primary losses, it was only a matter of time before Gingrich had to make some kind of decision about the way forward. But the betting was on an actual withdrawal from the race rather than slapping a band-aid on the problem.

Read More

Newt Gingrich has been dragging out his futile campaign, long after the rest of the world realized it was over. Long after it started getting slightly uncomfortable to see him still on TV giving speeches. But there was always some hope he might snap back to reality once the money ran out. Apparently that’s not the case:

Newt Gingrich is cutting back his campaign schedule, will lay off about a third of his cash-strapped campaign’s full-time staff, and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy, communications director Joe DeSantis told POLITICO. …

“We’re focusing exclusively on what it’ll take to win what we’re going to be calling a big-choice convention in August,” DeSantis said in a phone interview Tuesday night.

There is no real reason to believe that these drastic measures to turn around a flailing campaign can save the former House speaker’s candidacy for a third time.

Following a string of embarrassing primary losses, it was only a matter of time before Gingrich had to make some kind of decision about the way forward. But the betting was on an actual withdrawal from the race rather than slapping a band-aid on the problem.

What exactly is Newt’s end-game here? If he was trying to pressure Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum into cutting some sort of deal with him, he missed that boat weeks ago. The only possible reasons for staying in the race at this point seem to be 1.) He’s consumed with bitterness toward Romney and Santorum, and thinks he can do more damage in the race than out of it; 2.) He figures he has nothing better to do for awhile, and might as well stick it out; 3.) He sincerely believes he still has a chance at the nomination.

But even in the implausible scenario that there is a contested convention, why would Gingrich honestly think he’s a likely choice? It’s not like Republican voters haven’t had a chance to consider his candidacy. He’s been in the race since the beginning, and if the party wanted him as the nominee, he’d have won more than two states at this point.

As Allahpundit writes, “If you’ve reached the point in a convention floor fight where, for whatever reason, both Romney and Santorum are deemed unacceptable, why wouldn’t you roll the dice on a dark horse outsider? You’re much better off with someone like Christie or Paul Ryan who’s young, appealing, superb on the seminal issue of fiscal reform, and yet to have their national image defined than you are with High-Negatives Newt.”

Read Less