Five reasons Gingrich should get out of Santorum’s way
THE DAILY BLADE: Was it just a few weeks ago that Newt Gingrich was suggesting that rival Rick Santorum should drop out of the race for the Republican nomination? With Santorum’s Super Tuesday showing the shoe is on the other foot now – he either won (OK, TN, ND) or came in second (AK, ID, MA, OH, WY) in most of the 11 Super Tuesday states in which his name appeared on the ballot (he was tied with Ron Paul for second place in ID at 18% and was just one point behind Paul’s second-place finish in VT at 24%) – and his supporters are now urging Gingrich to quit. Of course, it would suit Mitt Romney just fine if both candidates would just go away so he can realize his manifest destiny.
At this point in the nominating process, Romney has won 3,235,771 votes (39.3%), Santorum is in second place with 2,079,125 votes, Gingrich has 1,819,067 votes (22.1%) and Paul is bringing up the rear at 925,259 (11.2%). Not counting Paul’s supporters – who would never vote for any of the other candidates, anyway – if you take the rest of the Anybody But Romney vote 662,421 more people have voted against Romney than for him.
But Santorum and Gingrich are splitting the anti-Romney vote and allowing Romney to squeak out victories in key states and rack up delegates (404 vs. 161 for Santorum, 105 for Gingrich and 61 for Paul). Like it or not – and key demographic groups don’t like it – Romney will become the nominee unless Gingrich stops hampering Santorum’s chances of fighting Romney all the way to the convention floor:
Five reasons Gingrich should swallow his pride and step aside by the Ides of March:
1. Gingrich and Santorum both believe that they could prevail against Romney over the long haul if they can just take him on mano-a-mano. But with his better-than-expected Super Tuesday showing – Santorum either won (OK, TN, ND) or came in second (AK, ID, MA, OH, WY) in most of the 11 states in which his name appeared on the ballot (he was tied with Paul for second place in ID at 18% and was just one point behind Paul’s second-place finish in VT at 24%) Santorum has proven that he can better withstand Romney’s barrage of negative ads and formidable organization, in part because he can win blue-collar, evangelical and Teapublican votes that are out of Romney’s reach.
2. In contrast to Gingrich, who has won just two Southern states – one of them his home state of GA – Santorum has won states in the Midwest, West and South, demonstrating national appeal. Santorum has also won more counties in the first 11 first primaries and caucuses states than all the other candidates combined, and Super Tuesday did not change this dynamic. Gingrich has tacitly conceded Saturday’s KS caucus to Santorum with his decision not to campaign in the state so he can concentrate on the AL and MS primaries on Tuesday, March 13th.
3. Having won GA and SC – but also losing FL to Romney and TN to Santorum – Gingrich is desperately trying to position himself as “the Southern candidate.” But if he doesn’t win both AL and MS next week his only remaining rationale for remaining in the race – weak as it is, to begin with – will have evaporated.
4. Exit polling in MA supports Santorum’s contention that Romney does not have the credibility to take the fight over the universal healthcare coverage to Obama. More than half of voters (51%) thought RomneyCare “Went Too Far” v. only 37% who said it was “About Right.” In contrast to Romney, who urged President Barack Hussein Obama to build an individual mandate into his healthcare “reform” plan, Santorum has been telling audiences, "I have never been for an individual mandate on the state or federal level." If Santorum wants to use sharp elbows to shove Gingrich out of the way, he can also mention the former Speaker also favored an individual mandate and didn’t sour on the idea until he began his presidential campaign.
5. While debate audiences cheered and stamped their feet each time Gingrich pushed back at an unfair or irrelevant question posed by a biased, liberal debate moderator, their enthusiasm has always been tempered by the fear that he would blow himself up with over-the-top rhetoric or some cockamamie idea that his opponents could lampoon. Not so with Santorum’s supporters. Considering the advantages of incumbency and Obama’s fundraising prowess, the biggest advantage Republicans have going for them is enthusiasm – especially amongst demographic groups who have soured on Obama. Santorum’s supporters are more enthusiastic than Romney’s – and he has been attracting young and blue collar voters in swing states whom Obama has alienated.