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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 05:23 PM ET, 04/09/2012

Does Santorum have any leverage with Romney?

Over at The Fix, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake made the very good point this morning that Mitt Romney has a lot more to worry about from Ron Paul than from Newt Gingrich. They’re right; there’s absolutely no sign out there that there’s any “Gingrich” constituency who would rally around the former Speaker if he was to denounce the GOP ticket and walk away. Nor is there any particular place for Gingrich to go to. His bread and butter is selling stuff (books, films, appearances) to hard-core Republicans, and it’s highly unlikely that he would jeopardize his business interests by revolting against the party during the height of the general election campaign — although you certainly can expect him to be early in line at the “Told You So” café as soon as the campaign is over.

Ron Paul, on the other hand, has a constituency, albeit not a large one, that is loyal to him personally. He’s always had a plausible threat against Romney, and continues to have one.

What about Rick Santorum, however? His economic interests, I suspect, are the same as Gingrich’s, which should lead him to strongly support Romney for exactly as long as the campaign is competitive. However, the real question is whether he’s achieved enough status among key GOP constituencies that he could credibly threaten to sink Romney by withholding his support.

My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that Santorum hasn’t reached that point yet. If he was to threaten to sit out the fall campaign, Romney could trot out Mike Huckabee, or Sarah Palin, or Jim DeMint, or any number of other heroes of movement conservatives and Tea Partiers, and meanwhile Fox News and other portions of the Republican partisan press could simply ignore Santorum. But I’m not sure. Certainly, it would be risky of Santorum to try, and I’m not sure exactly what the upside might be. If he’s really a true believer, however, there’s always the chance he’d go for it — and if there’s a risk of it, then Romney really does have to at least pay a little attention to keeping Santorum on board.

By  |  05:23 PM ET, 04/09/2012

 
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