In which BuzzFeed tosses an extra shovelful of dirt on a man who’s already being buried. Seriously, though: Does the Specter endorsement really matter to undecideds? It should matter, as it’s shiver-inducing proof that when RS says he’s willing to “take one for the team,” the team he has in mind is the GOP, not conservatives. (Just ask Pat Toomey.) Against an opponent with more ideological cred, it probably would matter. But against Mitt? How does a grassroots righty conclude that the guy who endorsed his RINO colleague from Pennsylvania is less trustworthy than the guy who’s run as a liberal, moderate, conservative, and now technocratic Republican over the past 18 years? Even Newt, in his post at Red State today slamming Santorum for conservative heresies, doesn’t bring up his chumminess with Specter. If you like Santorum, you like him for his hawkishness and/or his social conservatism and/or the fact that he’s Not Romney, and you accept his track record on spending as something that America’s new fiscal reality would force him to abandon once in office. The Specter thing is more talismanic than substantive for most conservatives, I think — visual proof of just how comfy with the centrist establishment the ostensible “anti-establishment” challenger to Romney is. Irritating, but not disqualifying given the alternative.

Anyway. If you believe Stephen Hayes, Team Sweater Vest has already committed to backing Romney (or, I guess, Newt) in case we do in fact end up with a brokered convention and a dark horse alternative emerges:

On Saturday, March 3, Romney stood with Santorum and Gingrich on the floor of a shuttered DHL warehouse in Wilmington, Ohio, next to a makeshift set constructed for a presidential forum hosted by Mike Huckabee. Each man had filmed individual question-and-answer sessions with Huckabee and panels of economic experts and local Ohio business owners. With a brief break before they gave their closing statements, Romney approached Santorum and Gingrich (Ron Paul was busy campaigning in Washington).

The three candidates discussed the nominating process. Romney raised the possibility of an unvetted candidate getting into the race and spoke of the perils such a scenario presented for the party. Not surprisingly, the other two assented and each agreed that he would reserve his support for someone now in the race. R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for Gingrich, said the consensus that emerged from the conversation was that the Republican nominee was among “the four of us” and not an outsider. Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney adviser, agreed with that characterization.

Despite the consensus that emerged from the discussion in Wilmington, Gingrich twice raised the possibility of a new entrant in an interview last week with Bret Baier on Fox News.

Exit question: What should we take from the fact that Romney is evidently so worried about a dark horse that he’s trying to squeeze a pledge out of Santorum and Gingrich not to support him/her in advance? I would have pegged the odds of an outsider stealing the crown off his head in Tampa at maybe a thousand to one, but if Mitt’s trying to nail down commitments from the rest of the field now, then he must have reason to believe the odds are considerably better than that. Hmmmmm.