Mitt Romney has a big problem. Between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, he may not be able to capture enough delegates to seal the nomination after the primaries end. To that end, Santorum's delegate counter put out a memo (PDF) outlining the pathway to a brokered convention. It's a two-pronged approach, involving a similar strategy to Ron Paul's, which is to be involved in the election of delegates at state conventions.
The Daily Beast explains:
"The state conventions will ultimately determine the outcome of this race," wrote John Yob, who was hired by Santorum this month to oversee his delegate operation.
Yob, who was deputy political director for Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, wrote a more than 2,000 word memo to lay out the Santorum campaign's view that time is on their side, rather than running out. The Santorum campaign first released the memo to Politico's Mike Allen early Monday morning.
Yob's messaging memo is intended in some part to relieve any pressure on Santorum to win both Mississippi and Alabama's primaries on Tuesday. But Yob's memo also lays out a case for how the process of electing delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla., this August could reduce the lead Romney currently has in the race to reach the magic number: 1,144.
The whole Republican primary race has been a study in mixed narratives. We hear over and over again from Republicans about how a protracted primary did not hurt Barack Obama in 2008, since he went on to win the election. I disagree. The divisions that existed after that primary battle exist today. They are, in my opinion, part of the reason the 2010 midterms were such a disaster.
But even if you disagree with me and think it was a good thing for Democrats to have gone through that battle, there are distinct differences between the Republicans of 2012 and Democrats of 2008. For starters, Democrats did not get as personal with each other. Yes, Hillary's campaign originated the smear points that still exist in today's politics -- Bill Ayers, the "madrassa" accusation, and others. But fundamentally, the two candidates were in agreement on policy, with very little daylight between them, even with regard to Iraq. The same is not true of the current GOP field. Also, Obama stayed far away from using Bill Clinton's womanizing ways to hit Hillary. If he had done that, I think the Democratic party would have lost and likely would not have recovered from it.
The remaining Republicans divide sharply into three camps. There is the Magic Morph Romney camp, where he morphs into whatever he needs to be that day without regard to the past, present or future. There is the Nasty Newt camp, where he just oozes nastiness and unwarranted certitude with every lie that comes out of his mouth, and focuses most on fiscal conservatism. Finally, there's the Sanctimonious Santorum camp, where women are chattel to be used as wedges against his opponents, where he praises Jesus while stomping on those Jesus ministered to, and where the only thing thing that matters is absolute fealty to God, guns and bitterness.
These groups are not reconcilable. Not even close. While Newt is out there calling for immediate withdrawals from Afghanistan (aligning with Ron Paul), Mitt is telling anyone who will listen that no change should be made, and if anything, we should ramp it up, and Santorum uses the tragic shooting of 16 Afghans to blame Obama for botching a "winnable" war while likely secretly celebrating the death of Muslims, all of whom are extremists to him.
So Mitt Romney might smile nervously and declare with all certainty that he will win the nomination because anything less than that would "signal the doom" of the Republican Party, but the fact is, that doom might be closer than he thinks. Even if Romney is the nominee, a polarized and divided party will not rally around him, even if he does choose an ultra-conservative running mate.
Later in this interview with Cavuto (not in the above clip), Romney declares outright that Santorum would never be his running mate because he's really far more liberal than Romney. This is the reality of the Republican primary race. It's not really clear what a Republican is anymore, beyond someone who hates President Obama. At some point they're going to have to be for something instead of just against the President. Even Barack Obama knew that.
CAVUTO: Rick Santorum on tomorrow's contest was telling folks today, you know, I'm actually doing far better in the delegate count than the media gives me credit. Given the apportioned voting, I have substantially more delegates than you're being told and this isn't a runaway for Mitt Romney. I'm paraphrasing here. What do you make of that?
ROMNEY: Well, the Republican National Committee puts the delegate count out. Each of the campaigns can put their own delegate count out, he can put his own delegate count out if he wants to showing it state by state, but look, we've got a very substantial lead. Rick Santorum's campaign put a memo out I think today talking about how they could go to a brokered convention and think they could swing some delegates to go from committed to uncommitted, maybe supporting him.
Look, if we go all the way to a convention, we would be -- we would signaling our doom in terms of replacing President Obama. We need to select someone to become our nominee, get that person nominated and get focused on President Obama and get him out of the White House.
CAVUTO: I think what he was saying, Governor, and I could have this sentiment wrong. We've tried to call his office on this. I think he's saying that the momentum would be his by that point. In other words, you would probably have the lead, I guess by his math, you wouldn't have locked down the 1144 delegates you need to be the nominee, the momentum would be with him, wavering delegates would opt in. You don't envision that?
ROMNEY: No, we haven't seen that happen so far. We won Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, and of course, a little earlier, Florida, New Hampshire. These are important states that make a real difference.
I mean, everybody has a scenario where they could become the nominee. That's fine but that's why we have a primary process and so far we have two, two and a half times as many delegates as he has and millions more votes than he has. And you know, that's the nature of the political process and if he is able to pull off a political miracle, so be it. He'll be the nominee.
But you know, we have a selection process, we're in the middle of it, I'm leading strongly, I'm going to continue to lead it, you're going to see me getting the delegates I need to become the nominee, and we sure as heck are not going to go to a convention, all the way to the end of August to select a nominee and have campaigns working during a convention.
Why, can you imagine anything that would be a bigger gift to Barack Obama than us not having a nominee until the end of August? That's just not going to happen.
I wouldn't count on it, Mittens. It's probably a bad idea to call yourself the Anointed One right now. After all, you're blowing through money at a record pace and haven't managed to close the deal. It ain't over until the 1144 sing.