The Washington Post

Gingrich and Santorum almost formed anti-Romney ‘unity ticket’

The campaign that never was: Bloomberg reports that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly teamed up in last year's Republican primary to take on Mitt Romney as a "Unity Ticket."


Gingrich and Santorum nearly joined forces. (CNN)

The negotiations began in the run up to the Michigan primary. Santorum had just swept the Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota contests and was taking on Romney in Michigan, the former Massachusetts governor's home state. Gingrich had beat Romney in South Carolina a month back, only to get crushed under a wave of attack ads in Florida and Arizona.

Predictably, the pact fell apart over disagreements on who should lead the ticket. Santorum's team thought Gingrich had peaked and that the former House speaker should drop out and endorse his rival. Gingrich wanted them both to stay in the race but concentrate on different states; he thought he should lead the ticket because he'd won a major state and was a senior party figure.

There were reports during the race of an attempted non-aggression pact between Santorum and Gingrich, as well as talk of combining their delegates at the convention

After Romney narrowly won Michigan, Santorum supporters publicly (and unsuccessfully) pressured Gingrich to get out of the race. Santorum took three Super Tuesday states; Gingrich took one, his home state of Georgia. It was his second and last primary victory. Santorum again tried to get Gingrich to quit but dropped out himself in April after losing Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia to Romney. Despite his meager delegate count, Gingrich held on until May 2.

Would Romney have fallen to a conservative unity ticket? It's unlikely. A Post examination of polls in early February found that if Gingrich dropped out, Romney's lead would have only increased. If Santorum dropped out, his followers would have split between Gingrich and Romney.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Listen
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.