Too good to check: Gingrich and Santorum considered teaming up to defeat Romney

posted at 12:41 pm on March 22, 2013 by Allahpundit

Sounds like a dream ticket: Gingrich, with his famously poor favorable ratings, and Santorum, a punching bag for Team O’s Akin-fueled “war on women” attacks on social conservatism. Joshua Green, who broke this news for Business Week, previews the media take on the ticket from an alternate dimension in which they beat Romney:

And so, once again, we’re forced to revisit one of the most dispiriting realities of Campaign 2012. Namely, Romney probably was the best we could have done.

Why didn’t Gingrich/Santorum fusion happen? Egos, of course.

The discussions between the two camps commenced in early February, just after Gingrich got trounced in Florida. Brabender called members of the Gingrich brain trust, hoping they could persuade Gingrich to drop out and endorse Santorum, who was rising in the polls. “I’ll tell you this,” says Brabender, “If Gingrich had dropped out at the right time, Santorum would have been the nominee.” Brabender wasn’t short on moxie: He wanted Gingrich to declare in the middle of a nationally televised debate that he was dropping out and endorsing Santorum. “I couldn’t write an ad to match the political theater that would have created,” he says.

Gingrich had other ideas. He proposed that both men join forces but remain in the race, each concentrating on the states where he matched up best against Romney. Gingrich thought he could carry Georgia, Delaware, Washington, and Wisconsin (from which his wife, Callista, hails). Santorum would focus on other states in the South and the upper Midwest. But there was a catch. “The appeal of a Unity Ticket was strength in numbers,” says Kellyanne Conway, Gingrich’s pollster. “The big question was, who was going to unify with whom? Who was going to be the sheriff and who was going to be the deputy?”

Gingrich thought that he belonged on top of the ticket. “Our reasoning,” says Walker, “is that we had won a major primary at that point [South Carolina] and people like Rick Perry were coming on board. Perry had just endorsed Newt.”

To Santorum’s team, however, the Gingrich campaign was a sinking ship, and their own man was the obvious choice to lead the ticket. “At the end of the day,” says Brabender, “we won 11 states and tied two others. He won two states, which makes it only logical that Rick was the one who had earned the right to go one-on-one with Romney.”

Read it all for tales of Newt, in vintage form, making “an elaborate historical argument” to Santorum that the senior figure should lead the ticket when the party is split. It sounds goofy in hindsight to think of him demanding the top spot when he faded so quickly and sharply after getting crushed in Florida, but Dave Weigel’s right that you need to pay attention to the timeline. Newt pulled off his big victory in South Carolina on January 21; he was routed in Florida on January 31, and then discussions with Santorum started happening a few days later. It wasn’t crazy at that point to think that Gingrich, who’d recently won a major state primary, should lead the ticket with Santorum in support. But then, the fact that Newt was eager to make a deal with a guy who had yet to see any clear-cut victories (Iowa was still in dispute) was surely proof enough to Santorum’s camp that Gingrich knew he couldn’t win. He was, in fact, a “sinking ship” after Florida and he knew it, and so did Santorum’s team. And don’t forget that the story of the primary campaign to that point had been that every challenger, including Herman Cain, spent a little time leading the polls. The powerful “Anybody but Romney” current among conservatives had led them to give everyone else a look; Santorum’s camp likely figured that their turn was coming now that Gingrich had gone bust, which ended up being true, so why should Santorum settle for number two? He was the last man standing.

At least there’s now a precedent for when Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal pull this on Rubio in 2016. Exit question: Reread the excerpt above and tell me, how exactly was Newt’s strategy of both of them staying in the race supposed to work? In theory, I guess, Santorum would tell his voters to support Newt in “Newt’s states” and Newt would tell his voters to support Santorum in “Santorum’s states.” But why would a voter do that if he didn’t know who was at the top of the ticket yet? And if Newt and Santorum had settled on a ticket with one of them at the top, what would be the point of both of them staying in the race? Just have the would-be VP nominee drop out and endorse the other guy.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Sounds like a dream ticket: Gingrich, with his famously poor favorable ratings

I can remember though that polls at one point showed Gingrich doing better against Obama than Romney was. Then of course that Death Star ™ went into action. Gingrich probably would have lolst the general, but at least he would’ve put up a fight against someone other than his GOP primary opponents. Team Romney was pathetic, and no amount of “well who else was there????” is going to change that fact. Romney was The Anointed and the nomination was pretty much settled by 2010.

ddrintn on March 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Palin didn’t run because she knew she would lose

BradTank on March 22, 2013 at 7:20 PM

That makes Palin a lot smarter than Romney then. Even we ignoramus rubes could see that that milquetoast was going to lose 3 years out.

ddrintn on March 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM

So you would sit back and let a Marxist get elected rather than vote for Santorum or Newt?

Very impressive, how do you look yourself in the mirror?????

LevinFan on March 22, 2013 at 4:37 PM

I don’t see Gingrich or Santorum as an upgrade to Obama. I find Santorum’s brand of moral hectoring Catholicism personally odious.

Illinidiva on March 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Good grief. Tune him out and thank the stars he would have repealed ObamaCare. For that most of us would have endured whatever lecture Santorum would have spouted and being left alone with respect to the second amendment.

Your comment has to be one of the silliest and short-sighted I’ve read in a long time. Congrats.

kim roy on March 22, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Palin didn’t run because she knew she would lose

BradTank on March 22, 2013 at 7:20 PM

That makes Palin a lot smarter than Romney then. Even we ignoramus rubes could see that that milquetoast was going to lose 3 years out.

ddrintn

Wow, what a fighter. Palin knew she was going to lose, so she didn’t even try, and that makes her better than Romney.

The cult of Palin is beyond pathetic.

BradTank on March 23, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Romney probably was the best we could have done???

You have GOT to be kidding us! Only Romney could not deliver a fight against the #1 thing Americans hated back then, 0bamacare. It most certainly not Gingrich or Santorum that KILLED the ABO movement!

The cult of Palin is beyond pathetic.

BradTank on March 23, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Actually the stay-at-home Romney ‘supporters’ that did SQUAT to get the man elected own Pathetic. Palin supporters [TEA Partys] worked in the trenches [while holding their noses] to get Willard elected. What did you do?

DannoJyd on March 23, 2013 at 5:11 AM

I’ll tell you this,” says Brabender, “If Gingrich had dropped out at the right time, Santorum would have been the nominee.”

Utter and complete bullsh!t.

Palin knew she was going to lose, so she didn’t even try

BradTank on March 23, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Lots of people “didn’t even try” because they knew they would lose. Why hate on her, particularly? The Romney people and the Bush people spent a lot of time, money and energy keeping the field clear for Romney from 2008, when they talked him into quitting the primary early, all the way through 2012. It takes more than courage and a fanbase to run for president. she’s not stupid.

alwaysfiredup on March 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3