Gingrich vows to stay in race as Alabama governor endorses Santorum; Update: Not an endorsement?

posted at 12:45 pm on March 13, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Tonight, four states hold contests to determine delegate allocations for the Republican presidential nomination, but the two that will be most closely watched tonight will be the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.  Hawaii and American Samoa hold caucuses that won’t carry the strategic significance of the two Deep South contests.  Or perhaps even these won’t have that much strategic significance, as Newt Gingrich insists that his campaign will continue regardless of tonight’s results:

 No matter what happens in Tuesday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries, Newt Gingrich says he will remain in the race, and he believes the combination of delegates being amassed by him, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will keep Mitt Romney from hitting the magic number of 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Speaking on a local Alabama radio show on Tuesday morning, the former House speaker said there is an advantage of using a “tag-team” approach to defeating Romney, the current front-runner.

“With Rick and me together, we are really slowing him down, with some help frankly from Ron Paul,” Gingrich told the radio hosts. “The country is sort of saying, a majority is saying, `Not Romney.’ The biggest bloc is saying Romney, but it’s not a big enough bloc to be a majority. We now are beginning to think he will literally not be able to get the delegates to get the nomination.”

Gingrich really needs wins at this point and not just decent delegate allocations.  Depending on whether one counts only the bound delegates from primaries or the presumed allocations from caucuses, Gingrich is either second or third in total delegates so far, but either way he’s way behind Romney.  It’s one thing to say that Romney’s not winning a majority — in a four-way race, that’s to be expected — but another entirely to claim that winning only two contests out of 30 (by the end of the night) makes one a credible contender against two others with more outright wins.  Even if Romney doesn’t get to a majority, what would Gingrich’s argument be for being the more electable candidate if he couldn’t carry anywhere near the number of states that the frontrunner(s) won?

At least Gingrich is in fighting distance of the lead in both Alabama and Mississippi, but in Alabama, Rick Santorum picked up an important endorsement:

Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama endorsed Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Tuesday, the same day as voters head to the polls in the state’s primary.

Bentley’s support was announced on the nationally syndicated radio program, “The Rick and Bubba Show,” by Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt. …

The nod marks a big get for the former Pennsylvania senator, who falls slightly behind rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the state, according to recent polls.

Santorum had seemed to be dropping off the pace a bit in Alabama, which helped Gingrich.  An endorsement might provide Santorum with some momentum for late deciders, although gubernatorial endorsements haven’t always paid off — as Mitt Romney found out in South Carolina, for instance.  As for Romney, Politico’s Jonathan Martin thinks a win tonight will seal the deal, or that at least a good performance will keep both Gingrich and Santorum in the race:

In a topsy-turvy GOP primary, where the unexpected has been the norm, such a final plot twist may be altogether fitting: The Mormon Yankee who thinks cheese grits are a revelation effectively seals the nomination in Alabama and Mississippi.

Mitt Romney has a shot to win both states — polls show him leading or effectively tied in each. But even if the former Massachusetts governor doesn’t take them outright, the apparent resurgence of Newt Gingrich in the Deep South has once again muddled the primary-within-a-primary so that Rick Santorum is going to be denied his wish to get a clean shot at the front-runner. …

“I think it’s over if he wins here,” said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant of Romney after a Monday rally with comedian Jeff Foxworthy at a trucking company outside Jackson. “At that point how do you go and say, ‘I’m the most conservative candidate’ if you can’t win the most conservative state in the country?”

Bryant is a Romney backer, but such sentiment isn’t difficult to pick up across the two deep red states. If one of the two conservative alternatives can’t decisively defeat the establishment favorite in Mississippi and Alabama, which have veered even more sharply to the right in the Obama era, it’s difficult to imagine either of them constructing an electoral firewall that can halt Romney’s march to Tampa.

Will there be a game changer tonight?  Frankly, I doubt it, and not just because none of the candidates have shown any inclination to depart the race so far.  As I explain in my column for The Week, we’re exiting a six-week period of intense simultaneous contests, and the primary schedule from this point forward slows down to a point where Romney’s organizational advantages lessen:

However, to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, tonight may be the end of the beginning, if not the beginning of the end. The primary schedule slows down considerably after tonight’s contests. After a serial start to the caucuses and primaries in January, most of the last six weeks have kept candidates busy campaigning in multiple states. That reached its apex in last week’s Super Tuesday battles in 10 states. Now, the four states today provide a last echo of the opening phase of the nomination fight. By the time the polls and caucuses close tonight, we will have completed 30 primaries and caucuses.

From this point forward, the contests come mostly one at a time — and with some significant down time between them. Missouri, Puerto Rico, and Illinois will take place over the next week, followed on the March 24 by Louisiana’s primary — but these all come singly rather than get lumped into one day. After Louisiana, Republicans have 10 days off before they spoil my birthday on April 3 with three primaries — and then another three weeks go by before five states hold primaries on April 24.

The sudden deceleration of the nomination process has some consequences for the race besides giving pundits more time to do math and analyze polls. The advantages of money and organization are most critical when candidates have to campaign simultaneously in several states, as has been the rule for most of the last six weeks. Now that the candidates have more time between contests, the money advantage matters less, and the three candidates not named Mitt Romney have less pressure on them to concede and withdraw.

Like last week’s Super Tuesday, I don’t expect tonight’s contests to settle anything — which is what I meant when I wrote that there was no “winner” from the night.  The only possibility for a change in the race might be if Gingrich fails to win either Alabama or Mississippi tonight and if Romney wins one of the two.  At that point, Gingrich won’t have much credibility left as a candidate even in a brokered convention, and a Romney win would give him added credibility as a national candidate.  If Gingrich wins both, or he splits them with Santorum, the race will go on as before, and it will be a long haul to June before this gets settled to the satisfaction of either of them.

Update: When is an endorsement not an endorsement?  When it’s merely a vote:

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley admitted Tuesday that he voted for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in the state’s primary, but argued that shouldn’t be read as an endorsement of Santorum’s presidential campaign.

“I view Rick Santorum as the most conservative candidate in the Republican presidential primary,” Bentley wrote on Facebook after word leaked out on the radio in Alabama that he voted for Santorum.

On Tuesday morning, Santorum’s campaign blasted out a press release reporting that Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt relayed the news of who Bentley voted for on the “Rick and Bubba Show.”

Shortly after that, Bentley, who for weeks has said he wouldn’t endorse, took to his Facebook page to argue that the disclosure of his vote doesn’t mean he has made an endorsement.

Then maybe he should have kept his choice to himself, as well as his opinion of Rick Santorum.  It’s a silly distinction.  What’s the point of declaring how you voted if it’s not to in some way endorse that candidate or position?


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Ed Morrissey, we expect you to correct your erroneous headline ASAP, with your apology added to the post and an assurance that you’ll be more honest and careful in the future.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

It’s not your blog. If you’re not banned for throwing around demands like this, it just means Ed is patient.

tom on March 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Heaven forbid someone should expect accuracy from a news blog.

To Ed’s credit, he did update the headline and the post. Of course, there are still problems with the headline, but it is an improvement.

Also, I wish that Santorum supporters would stop calling on others to get banned when they post different opinions. You Santorum supporters are just repelling people away from your candidate even more than he does himself with his extremist social views and whiney, judgemental attitude.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Thought this was a political blog. You still haven’t answer my ?

Bmore on March 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

it is has already been proven on HA and other places that the problem is not “Romney being unable to close the deal”

g2825m on March 13, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Dear good one, it is. Reagan didn’t run for himself, or against Carter, he ran for the country, and all ruffians, people, and etc. followed him, from all quarter, to the tune of 44 and then 49 states.

We agree to disagree, respectfully.

Be very careful and sleep good.

Schadenfreude on March 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM

You may be right, but I think every little bit helps in a close race like this. I think it’s okay to expect Ed Morrissey to be accurate. If I were in his position, I would want people to be holding me to a higher standard, too.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Sure, he should be accurate, but Ed makes a good point when he asks why the guv announced how he voted if it wasn’t meant as some kind of endorsement. That makes no sense to me, either.

Anyway, the blatant misrepresentations of what Romney says (usually in posts from Tina) bother me more than the difference between a vote and an endorsement.

changer1701 on March 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

How impertinent of you, and snotty too. Go run your own blog.

Schadenfreude on March 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Gotta go. Answer up gilled one.

Bmore on March 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM

No, but Romney is not selling himself as the one with the “True” and “Most” conservative record dating back years and years, like Santorum is.

Rick Santorum has a liberal economic record in many respects.

Does Rick Santorum have a history of extreme social views, like supporting government bans on private homosexual activity between consenting adults? Yes, he does.

Now, if some Tea Party people like the sort of candidate that Rick “Bedroom Policeman” is, then they’re free to vote for him. But I don’t think many real Tea Party supporters are going to be fooled by a fake like Rick Santorum, who vowed last year to fight against Tea Party influence in the Republican party.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Update: Not an endorsement?
============================

Found this!

Alabama Governor Didn’t Actually Endorse Rick Santorum
******************************************************

The campaign hyped it up, but Alabama governor Robert Bentley just voted for Santorum. Says on his Facebook page it wasn’t an endorsement.
Mar 13, 2012 11:52am EDT

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/alabama-governor-didnt-actually-endorse-rick-sant
=================

Dr. Robert Bentley

I view Rick Santorum as the most conservative candidate in the Republican presidential primary. I have chosen not to publicly endorse a candidate. I believe a vote is a personal decision that should be based on a voter’s values and principles, not on someone else’s opinion. After being asked who I would vote for, I responded that I had personally chosen to vote for Rick Santorum. The Republican primary features a strong pool of candidates, and I will fully support the Republican nominee chosen by the people.

http://www.facebook.com/RobertBentley2010

canopfor on March 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

It’s not the “what”, it was the your “how”. Ed is one of the most honest men around. You could have said what you did like this

Ed, here’s a link in which…thank you.

Schadenfreude on March 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM

They won’t believe a fake like Mitt either. They are smarter than most.

Schadenfreude on March 13, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Anyway, the blatant misrepresentations of what Romney says (usually in posts from Tina) bother me more than the difference between a vote and an endorsement.

changer1701 on March 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Oh, me too. Agreed. Listen, I don’t think Ed is always being totally and consistently unfair. I genuinely believe that Ed tries for balance in his coverage. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t pressure him when changes ought to be made or when he doesn’t get something quite right. There’s nothing wrong with providing feedback.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Heaven forbid someone should expect accuracy from a news blog.

To Ed’s credit, he did update the headline and the post. Of course, there are still problems with the headline, but it is an improvement.

Also, I wish that Santorum supporters would stop calling on others to get banned when they post different opinions. You Santorum supporters are just repelling people away from your candidate even more than he does himself with his extremist social views and whiney, judgemental attitude.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Nothing wrong with asking for corrections. I believe Ed wants to get the story right, and corrects it when he thinks it’s wrong.

But demanding corrections immediately like you did here and in the tone you did is shrill. I’m not the one demanding Ed fix it like I want it. I don’t really expect him to ban you for it, but that’s because I know he’s fairly long-suffering. It doesn’t change the fact that he’d be within his rights to ban you, or give you a warning.

You’re the one reeking of intolerance, calling Santorum a bigot over and over again. Your little ploy of claiming persecution when people react to you acting like a jerk doesn’t impress me.

tom on March 13, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Heaven forbid someone should expect accuracy from a news blog.

To Ed’s credit, he did update the headline and the post. Of course, there are still problems with the headline, but it is an improvement.

Also, I wish that Santorum supporters would stop calling on others to get banned when they post different opinions. You Santorum supporters are just repelling people away from your candidate even more than he does himself with his extremist social views and whiney, judgemental attitude.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

I disagree with people on here all the time and I don’t recall anyone asking for me to be banned.

I’m a Romney supporter and I think you’re an insufferable groupie. People like you, jailbreak, chudi, and petunia are just hateful trolls. That’s why people want you banned.

GOPRanknFile on March 13, 2012 at 2:17 PM

This to me is where Gingrich has an advantage. He’s the compromise candidate between Romney and Santorum.
alwaysfiredup on March 13, 2012 at 1:16 PM

I want what you’re smoking. Actually I take that back. I want to approach this situation with the utmost sobriety as defeating the Occupier-in-Chief is job one.

Have you seen Newt’s favorables/unfavorables? His favorite argument for electability is that he can out debate Obama. Did you see how Mitt destroyed Newt in the pre-Florida debate?

Anyway, the blatant misrepresentations of what Romney says (usually in posts from Tina) bother me more than the difference between a vote and an endorsement.
changer1701 on March 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Agreed. I can see why he took it as an endorsement. Oh well, here we are distracted again by sillyness. Time for another thread about grits…

Buy Danish on March 13, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Newt Gingrich speaking in Vestavia Hills, AL, his only public event before polls close

Submitted 20 mins ago from instagr.am
http://www.breakingnews.com/
=============================

http://instagr.am/p/IHyrdsTAqv/

canopfor on March 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

it is has already been proven on HA and other places that the problem is not “Romney being unable to close the deal”

g2825m on March 13, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Dear good one, it is. Reagan didn’t run for himself, or against Carter, he ran for the country, and all ruffians, people, and etc. followed him, from all quarter, to the tune of 44 and then 49 states.

We agree to disagree, respectfully.

Be very careful and sleep good.

Schadenfreude on March 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM

schaden…thanks for the support. not going to bed just yet…haha

Also the Reagan comparison is off because the delegate system was not set up the same as it is this year. This year’s primary was set up TO TAKE THIS LONG and it is idiotic! but it is what it is…right?

g2825m on March 13, 2012 at 2:23 PM

So this is the governor’s version of a Palin endorsement.

rubberneck on March 13, 2012 at 2:26 PM

This year’s primary was set up TO TAKE THIS LONG and it is idiotic! but it is what it is…right?

g2825m on March 13, 2012 at 2:23 PM

It’s a circus, we can agree on this much, I think. Be well and very careful.

Schadenfreude on March 13, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Agreed. I can see why he took it as an endorsement. Oh well, here we are distracted again by sillyness. Time for another thread about grits…

Buy Danish on March 13, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Or NASCAR team owners..

changer1701 on March 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Why is there virtually no HotAir coverage of the Hawaii Caucus today? Unless, I’m missing something, I haven’t read much of anything about Hawaii on this site. Is it because Rick Santorum isn’t expected to do well in Hawaii?

Annoy a Liberal, Vote for ANYONE BUT Rick Santorum!

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Hawaii and American Samoa hold caucuses that won’t carry the strategic significance of the two Deep South contests.

American Samoa gained statehood?

Must be one of those extra 7 states Obama was referring to.

Bitter Clinger on March 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM

..Huh? Hawaii gained statehood?

*wakes up; rubs eyes*

The War Planner on March 13, 2012 at 2:44 PM

The end is already here for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Neither one could beat Obama and neither one can win enough delegates to even get the nomination.

Republicans are wanting to unite behind a candidate who actually can and WILL defeat Obama, and that is one reason why people are choosing Mitt over those other two.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Y A W N !!!

KOOLAID2 on March 13, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Why is there virtually no HotAir coverage of the Hawaii Caucus today? Unless, I’m missing something, I haven’t read much of anything about Hawaii on this site. Is it because Rick Santorum isn’t expected to do well in Hawaii?
bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM

I’ll give you an update…

My daughter is in Hawaii and she met and had her photo taken with Matt Romney, Mitt’s son. She said it was a HUGE turnout and hopefully that bodes well for Mitt over there which it should. :o)

g2825m on March 13, 2012 at 3:21 PM

My daughter is in Hawaii and she met and had her photo taken with Matt Romney, Mitt’s son. She said it was a HUGE turnout and hopefully that bodes well for Mitt over there which it should. :o)

g2825m on March 13, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Awesome. Let’s hope so.

I know that people in Hawaii sometimes feel disconnected from national politics, and I think it would be nice to acknowledge their contributions today.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 3:29 PM

I dunno; “Rick Santorum is the most conservative in the race” doesn’t sound like an endorsement to me either. It sounds like all the other empty platitudes about Santorum.

I would love to review Santorum’s voting record with the good governor and see if he still reaches that conclusion afterwards.

Marcus Traianus on March 13, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Ed Morrissey is an admitted Rick Santorum promoter and often spins the news in Santorum’s favor, even though the social issues extremist Rick Santorum has virtually no chance of winning the nomination and could never beat Obama.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Golly! Ed should go to prison for that!
And I think I’m going to be banned all the time, waiting for the hammer to fall, because all I do is snarky stupid comments, to the folks that are silly stupid diaper drooling dorks. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
This one IS BATSHEET CRAZY! (do you think there are reproductive organs, that have possibly been executed and worked…and the genetic pool was extended? Oh lord help us!)

KOOLAID2 on March 13, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Why is there virtually no HotAir coverage of the Hawaii Caucus today? Unless, I’m missing something, I haven’t read much of anything about Hawaii on this site. Is it because Rick Santorum isn’t expected to do well in Hawaii?

Annoy a Liberal, Vote for ANYONE BUT Rick Santorum!

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM

….name a conservative from Hawaii? We already know the outcome without any guessing….as do you.

KOOLAID2 on March 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM

It’s one thing to say that Romney’s not winning a majority — in a four-way race, that’s to be expected — but another entirely to claim that winning only two contests out of 30 (by the end of the night) makes one a credible contender against two others with more outright wins.

Newty also thought embracing OWS and a lunar colony were good ideas so, you know…there’s that. Apparently grandiosity does not facilitate clear thinking.

cicerone on March 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM

“I think it’s over if he wins here,” said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant of Romney after a Monday rally with comedian Jeff Foxworthy at a trucking company outside Jackson. “At that point how do you go and say, ‘I’m the most conservative candidate’ if you can’t win the most conservative state in the country?”

Yup.

cicerone on March 13, 2012 at 4:11 PM

You may be right, but I think every little bit helps in a close race like this. I think it’s okay to expect Ed Morrissey to be accurate. If I were in his position, I would want people to be holding me to a higher standard, too.

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Ed Morrissey is of the highest standard there is in blogging.

SparkPlug on March 13, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Annoy a Liberal limp-wristed girly boy, Vote for ANYONE BUT Rick Santorum!

bluegill on March 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM

FIFY, girly boy

Decoski on March 13, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Santorum’s campaign admitted in their strategy memo that their best hope to is force this to go to the convention and somehow prevail there. Gingrich now essentially admits the same. He can’t win, all he can do is help keep Romney from winning outright.

Confutus on March 13, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Drudge is already calling Alabama and MS for Romney….

Bradky on March 13, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Then maybe he should have kept his choice to himself, as well as his opinion of Rick Santorum. It’s a silly distinction. What’s the point of declaring how you voted if it’s not to in some way endorse that candidate or position?

I hear your point, but as one who spends virtually no time in the rarefied air of political punditry I find it very hard to find fault with his statement…

“I have chosen not to publicly endorse a candidate. I believe a vote is a personal decision that should be based on a voter’s values and principles, not on someone else’s opinion,” he said. “After being asked who I would vote for, I responded that I had personally chosen to vote for Rick Santorum.”

He added: “The Republican primary features a strong pool of candidates, and I will fully support the Republican nominee chosen by the people.”

Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with his words.

cs89 on March 13, 2012 at 5:37 PM

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