Angry Santorum: I never said I’d vote for Obama over Romney!

posted at 6:00 pm on March 23, 2012 by Allahpundit

Twelve minutes from today’s Cavuto. I agree, he never said he’d vote for Obama over Romney. What he said was that “we” the electorate might collectively conclude that there’s not enough difference between them to justify replacing the incumbent, the implication being that that would be a perfectly reasonable conclusion. Right? Read his comments from yesterday again or watch the video; the clear impression I got was “I wouldn’t blame anyone who thought that way,” an impression apparently shared by Santorum supporter Ed Morrissey. There are a lot of ways to hit Mitt for being a squish, first and foremost that America can’t afford one when bold action on entitlements is desperately needed, but anything that legitimizes the idea that the differences between Romney and The One are too “little” to justify a strong preference for one or the other is poisonous to the larger Republican effort. What he said yesterday did that, and his spokesman doubled down on it this morning by calling Romney a “mirror image” of O before adding the perfunctory bit about supporting the nominee. They’re not mirror images; there are hugely compelling reasons to strongly prefer one to the other, as I’d expect any committed pro-lifer who pays attention to Supreme Court vacancies to understand. I don’t mean to begrudge a guy a line of attack when he’s desperate to get traction somehow, but the attack on Romney from the right should never go beyond arguing that America needs a strong conservative to achieve meaningful improvements in policy. If you’re a prominent Republican with a big soapbox and you’re comparing Romney to Obama generally — even in the context of how “we,” not you, might feel — you’re playing with matches. (The only exception I can think of is on the specific issue of “ObamneyCare” because it’s hugely relevant to the primary and, let’s face it, there’s really no way around the mirror-image conclusion. But even in that case, the more likely it is that Romney will be the nominee, the more counterproductive that argument is.)

Interestingly, it’s Gingrich who’s made a bigger deal about this today than Romney. Statement one from Team Newt:

Newt 2012 Campaign Chairman Rep. Bob Walker released the following statement today criticizing Sen. Santorum’s comments about the possibility of an Obama reelection:

“As a former Pennsylvania colleague of Rick Santorum in the Congress, I am stunned by his statement that if he is not the Republican nominee, we might be better off with the reelection of President Obama. An Obama reelection would assure full implementation of Obamacare, a continuation of the assault on American energy production, more economic policies that destroy American jobs and the appointment of more radically leftist judges including perhaps to the Supreme Court. Whatever our differences inside the Republican primaries, no candidate should be suggesting that Barack Obama is a reasonable alternative.”

And statement two, a letter to RNC chief Reince Priebus (slightly edited):

Republicans must not lose sight of our ultimate goal in 2012: defeating President Obama in November. While we may disagree on which candidate will be the strongest opponent to the President in the general election, we can agree that any of the current Republican candidates would be a better president than Barack Obama.

As chairman of the Republican National Committee, you are in a position to focus our candidates on this goal. I request that you issue a pledge asking all the Republican presidential candidates to support our eventual nominee. It is imperative that Republicans unite once the nomination process is complete in order to defeat President Obama. We cannot afford four more years of his leadership.

Newt’s angle here, I assume, is to paint Santorum as a traitor to the cause so that voters will turn away from Team Sweater Vest in disgust and back to Newt as the designated Not Romney for the eleventh or twelfth time in the race. (I’ve lost count.) Mitt’s angle is not to mention what Santorum said anymore lest he end up repeating the “Romney = Obama” message inadvertently.


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