Mitt Romney’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination might seem like a runaway train at the moment but, just like in the 2010 film Unstoppable, some people want to ruin all the fun. In a Politico opinion piece, Paul Goldman and Mark J. Rozell suggest that to save the day, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have to work together, just like Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.
Specifically, Santorum’s going to be Denzel. Or maybe it’s the other way around? I’m not too clear now — it’s been a while since I’ve seen Unstoppable. The real grit of Goldman and Rozell’s idea is that Santorum get top billing, as Gingrich steps out of the presidential race and runs as Santorum’s vice-presidential nominee.
Why would that work? As Goldman and Rozell write:
Anti-Gingrich/pro-Santorum “faith and family” voters are unlikely to support the former speaker over Romney in a two-way race. But pro-Gingrich/anti-Romney “very conservative” voters, the GOP’s biggest ideological block, can be persuaded to back the Pennsylvanian in a two-way contest against the candidate Gingrich calls the “Massachusetts moderate.”
The exit polls reveal that Gingrich’s advantages over Santorum are based on experience and his perceived ability to beat Obama. This image of Santorum can possibly change as the former speaker and other leaders rally behind him. But the perception of Gingrich among those who find him unfit for the Presidency is not fixable and it is only likely to grow.
Essentially, Gingrich’s philandering can’t be buried, atoned for, or outrun. A candidate like Santorum, on the other hand, might be able to convince the electorate that he’s strong on issues other than shitty bigotry, pardon the pun.
Together, they might be able to derail Romney. Or maybe not. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post‘s The Fix points to a recent poll that suggests neither of them would be able to retake the lead from Romney if one of them dropped out. Same goes for Ron Paul, if you’re still keeping track of the guy.
But, even Blake says that the poll “is just a snapshot in time and isn’t the be-all, end-all”. A candidate dropping and the formation of the space-faring dream-duo might shake up the race.
But what then? A lot of Romney’s appeal is that he’s a more moderate candidate and so it’s safe to assume he’d be able to draw some of the independent vote and maybe even convert some Democrats to his side. If the far-right element of the Republican Party backed Santorum hard and he managed to get the nomination as the “true” conservative candidate, then he and Gingrich are dead in the water come general election time.
A Santorum/Gingrich White House ticket wouldn’t just be taking the best from each candidate — it’d be their collective worst, too, a combination of Gingrich’s spotty history as a “historian” along with his collection of personal vices, tossed in with the polarizing socials views that have led to Santorum’s Google problem.
PS — You might guess that I did the picture up there. It’s a combo of Gingrich’s face with Santorum’s smile and eyes. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to get too close to see for yourself. It really should’ve been the other way around, but I only realised that fact after I was done and I don’t want to spend too much time looking into either of their eyes. Anyhow, hope that doesn’t haunt your dreams or anything.