I understand the pose that Rick Santorum and his advisers are taking. They want to maintain the facade that Santorum is important, relevant and influential. So they craft the notion that a meeting between Santorum and Mitt Romney is needed and that many critical things will be discussed. Longtime aide John Brabender is dispatched to utter lines like: “It’s about more than moving toward an endorsement. It’s also about helping Rick and Governor Romney to get to know each other on a personal level. They’ve only talked in passing at the debates; they’ve never really gotten to know each other. Rick wants to sit down with Romney, one on one, and talk through some things.” I mean how do you do this with a straight face?
More to the point, why does an outlet like Politico play it straight? In parsing Santorum’s words its reporter Charles Mahtesian actually takes the posturing more seriously than Brabender does, giving us insights like this:
What he said: “Rick, as someone who garnered over 3 million votes and won eleven states, is someone who can share a lot with Romney about how to win over conservatives, tea-party voters, and blue-collar Republicans. He is going to want to know, first hand, how Romney expects to make that part of the party not only part of his campaign, but part of his administration, should he win the election.”
What he meant: Respect must be paid. We’re not coming into this meeting as supplicants: We beat the governor and his fancy Boston campaign in the South, the Midwest and the Mountain West. And we did it with no money. Not bad for an ‘unelectable’ candidate. We’d be happy to provide some insights into the various key constituencies that Mitt couldn’t crack. After that, we’re very interested in understanding the thinking surrounding the choice for vice-president and, of course, HHS secretary.
Maybe this is another sly parody (there is a lot of that going on), but this is really preposterous nonreporting, offering Brabender and Santorum an undeserved aura of seriousness and legitimacy that no one else is according them.
We know several things. First, the conservative base has largely coalesced around Romney. If Santorum wanted to be a player, he’s months late in throwing his weight around. To the extent there are still doubters, there are far better-known and -liked figures, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who can tend to the base.
Second, there is no evidence that Santorum has a base of support personal to him; he had the remnant of the not-Romney voters who have now melded into the Romney camp. The idea that he can “deliver” voters is just silly.
And finally, Romney doesn't need or necessarily want anything from Santorum. Hence, no rush or even interest in the Romney camp in moving this along.
The entire dance with Romney (nothing is coming from the Romney camp ,you will note) is a charade to assuage Santorum’s ego. So Politico, like the Daily Variety of D.C., is now in the business of acting as a PR agent for washed up stars? I guess so.