Romney hires Santorum campaign manager

posted at 10:01 am on April 27, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Mitt Romney’s task as presumptive nominee will be to unite the party behind his leadership in time for the general election against Barack Obama.  That requires a delicate balance of expanding the message beyond the GOP tent while embracing the conservatives who have been reluctant to back Romney.  He has to find ways to reach those voters, and Romney has made a significant move in that direction by drafting the man who helped make Rick Santorum their champion:

Veteran Manchester Republican activist Mike Biundo, the former national campaign manager for Rick Santorum, has signed on with the Mitt Romney campaign in a key post organizing conservative voters for the presumptive presidential nominee.

UnionLeader.com has learned that after guiding Romney’s chief rival’s presidential effort, Biundo has now been hired for the general election as the Romney campaign’s deputy national director of coalitions.

“Mike Biundo ran an outstanding campaign for Senator Santorum,” said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. “We are excited that he has agreed to bring his considerable skills and abilities to our team.”

Santorum will meet next week with Romney, and some have criticized him for not offering an endorsement by now, more than two weeks after suspending his campaign.  However, Biundo tells the Union-Leader that Santorum gave him his blessing to make the change to Romney’s team:

“They called shortly after Rick dropped out,” Biundo said. “We had several conversations. I spoke with Rick and made sure it was OK with him before I moved, and he gave his full blessing on it.”

Both Santorum and Newt Gingrich will negotiate a place for themselves in the upcoming campaign and convention, and how much influence they will have on the message.  Putting Biundo into that slot helps both Romney and Santorum, and underscores the increased clout Santorum has after a surprisingly effective 2011-12 campaign.  It also creates a liaison between Romney’s team and Santorum that will make it more comfortable for his erstwhile competitor to engage with the Romney campaign in reaching Santorum backers to pull them into the fold.

It’s a smart move all around.  That doesn’t mean that Romney will have no issues in stoking enthusiasm among conservatives, but he now has a key player who has proven his ability to get that job done, and on much more of a shoestring, as opposed to Romney’s well-funded campaign.  Give him a couple of months and a couple of more ridiculous personal attacks from Team Obama, and it might be easier than anyone would have thought.


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