He will continue to travel — “less expensively” — to some primary states and will not quit the race until Romney reaches the number of delegates required to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. But Gingrich says he will now focus his efforts on persuading GOP delegates to adopt a series of platform proposals that will hold Romney to conservative positions…
“Does this guy run on an actively conservative platform?” Gingrich asks, “or do they in fact try to run on an Etch-A-Sketch blank slate platform? I don’t think he’ll have any support in the conservative movement unless he accepts a conservative platform.”
A platform, that is, that closely resembles Gingrich’s own campaign platform. The former House speaker wants Romney to adopt what Gingrich calls the American Energy Independence program, including a proposal to use the vast revenues from new oil-and-gas exploration licensing to pay down the national debt. Gingrich will also press Romney to commit to specific reforms of Social Security, including personal accounts. And Gingrich wants Romney to sign on to a list of proposals concerning religious liberty.
Domestic drilling, entitlement reform, religious liberty, and reducing the debt: Thank goodness Newt will be there in Tampa demanding these arcane policy goals that wouldn’t otherwise have been mentioned in the platform without him. I’ve been assuming, in fact, that Romney will accede to making the platform as conservative and/or libertarian as necessary to please the base and the Ron Paul fans who might otherwise be wary of voting for him. For the most part, what does he care what it says? He can always respectfully disagree with parts of it on the trail and no one seriously believes it’ll guide his decisions if/when he’s president. The only part of the platform that he’ll insist on dictating, I’d imagine, is the immigration section since he can’t afford to hand Obama any sort of weapon on that. He’ll have to walk a fine line, so naturally he’ll want to draw the line himself. But if it makes Newt feel better to believe that the platform won’t look conservative without him, hey. He’s fought a long, long race. He’s entitled.
Via the Right Scoop, here’s Santorum on Hannity’s radio show today responding to comments from Newt’s Wisconsin chief over the weekend that a Santorum/Gingrich ticket — or Gingrich/Santorum — could be just what conservatives need to derail the Romney express at the last moment. If you can figure out Santorum’s answer, let me know; after listening twice I didn’t detect a firm rejection or an acceptance, and Hannity sounds as confused as I am. I take it this is RS just trying to be diplomatic in saying “no way” while also embracing the basic idea that conservatives need to do something dramatic at the eleventh hour, such as rallying behind Rick Santorum. But I think we’re past even the eleventh hour now: Romney’s likely to net upwards of 100 delegates tomorrow, which will give him a lead of ~250 on Santorum and Gingrich combined. And since Gingrich has faded to the point where he’s picking up no delegates in race after race, it’s entirely up to Santorum to do well enough in the remaining primaries to block Romney from reaching 1,144. Think that’ll be more likely or less likely after Romney’s clean sweep on Tuesday? Exit question: Will Santorum contest Pennsylvania on April 24 if he drops three states tomorrow and the polls back home start to turn against him? Losing in PA would be embarrassing; if he drops out beforehand, he can spare himself that. Click the image to listen.