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Right Turn
Posted at 08:45 AM ET, 03/23/2012

Getting rid of Santorum

From yesterday’s events it is clear that the Mitt Romney campaign and many top Republicans want Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to end the primary promptly and graciously. Unfortunately, these are two politicians who tend to regard themselves as either “chosen” or “grandiose” and are prone to confuse their own ambitions with what is good for their party and the conservative movement. In other words, I very much doubt they will wrap this up unless they perceive their personal interests are threatened.

The writing may be on the wall, but what to do if Santorum and Gingrich refuse to read it? Let’s consider some steps in increasing order of severity.

As a starting point those Republican leaders still sitting on their hands (e.g., governors, members of Congress) can throw their support to the inevitable nominee. When Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C) or Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.) — or other rock stars in the base — announce that this should end and they formally endorse Romney, that should convey a serious message.

It would be an embarrassment, but a unified showing by the Pennsylvania congressional delegation and by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) would give a powerful message: Even in his own state Santorum is isolated.

Moving to more severe measures, Republican National Committee chief Reince Priebus could quietly or loudly signal it is time to wrap things up. Even expressing “concern” about the length of the race could be jarring to Santorum.

As we continue to more drastic measures, the unbound delegates (many of whom are RNC delegates or state party reps) can formally announce support for Romney, pushing his delegate total much higher.

There are also the grass-roots groups and the more responsible elements (or even ones who’ve been less than responsible but are experiencing pangs of concern that all of this has gone too far) in the conservative media who can signal that Santorum’s actions are delaying and prejudicing the fight against President Obama.

But the only sure way, of course, to end this is for the voters to tell Santorum to go. It would be cruel but effective (and very possible) for Pennsylvania Republicans to deliver the final blow. Even a less than stellar showing in Louisiana or a trio of losses for Santorum on April 3 could do the trick as well. That is why Santorum’s bald-faced assertion that beating Obama is not the highest priority is so harmful to his stay-in-the-race gambit. (“If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch a Sketch candidate of the future.”) In fact, in primary after primary, a large majority of voters have said that is precisely what should be the leading factor.

As Allahpundit remarked: “Faced with the reality that his chances have collapsed, the Sweater Vest begins to unravel . . . . I’m actually amazed he’s making this argument given the hard feelings it’ll engender among Republicans who’ll soon be rallying around Romney in an “anybody but Obama” fervor. Santorum’s sunk this time, but he’s raised his profile significantly for 2016. Time to start thinking ahead strategically instead of letting bitterness run away with that yapper of his.” You can understand how his lost his home state by 18 points in 2006.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, reaction was equally harsh. Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds said of the proposition that Obama is somehow preferable to Romney: “No he’s not, and you just demonstrated that it’s time to end your campaign. Either you’re an idiot, or you’ve cracked under the pressure. Either way, go home.” Yikes.

Even Newt Gingrich had sense enough to deplore the remark: “Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.”

If large numbers of GOP voters decide Santorum’s attitude about the importance of dumping Obama is flat out wrong, if not offensive, then they can send Santorum packing. As always, the voters have the final say.

By  |  08:45 AM ET, 03/23/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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