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Well, This Would Have Been Weird

From Joshua Green at Bloomberg:

It’s one of the great untold stories of the 2012 presidential campaign, a tale of ego and intrigue that nearly upended the Republican primary contest and might even have produced a different nominee.

As Mitt Romney struggled in the weeks leading up to the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum almost agreed to form a joint “Unity Ticket” to consolidate conservatives support and topple Romney.

“We were close,” former Representative Bob Walker, a Gingrich ally, said. “Everybody thought there was an opportunity.”

“It would have sent shock waves through the establishment and the Romney campaign,” said John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist.

The negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president, as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek.com.

“In the end,” Gingrich said, “it was just too hard to negotiate.”

I’m not sure that “almost agreed” is the correct terminology when the stumbling block was who was on top of the ticket. That’s like saying that you “almost” started a business, but couldn’t decide what you were going to sell.

That being said, I’m curious as to how many of the Ricochetti would have backed this unity ticket as an alternative to Romney.

What do you think? Could it have successfully consolidated the anti-Romney energy in the primaries? Would you have supported them? If they had secured the nomination, how would it have played out in the general election?

  1. Mendel

    This conversation is already rolling over on the Member Feed (h/t: Fred Cole).

  2. Paul Erickson

    How would it have played in the general election?

    If you weld an anvil to an Edsel, does it sink faster?

  3. kgrant67

    Good Lord, no.  Since when do two wrongs make a right?  

  4. Mendel
    Troy Senik, Ed.

    Could it have successfully consolidated the anti-Romney energy in the primaries?

    Picture the scenario: a former independent who lost every campaign in his life save one running against a ticket composed of a leader whose own friends kicked him out together with a guy who lost his last election by 18%. 

    That might have sapped whatever energy was left in the primaries.

  5. Troy Senik, Ed.

    The logic here goes that if you combined the anti-Mitt people who were with Newt and the anti-Mitt people who were with Santorum that you’d get an anti-Mitt majority. I wonder, however, if that logic holds up.

    How many people supported either Gingrich or Santorum as a protest vote of sorts but would have had to rethink that if looked like it was plausible that one of them would have actually become the nominee? The story of the 2012 GOP field always boils down to the same dynamic: it was Romney vs. the JV squad.

  6. The King Prawn
    Troy Senik, Ed.: The story of the 2012 GOP field always boils down to the same dynamic: it was Romney vs. the JV squad. · 1 minute ago

    But Romney was the Varsity squad with only one fluke win, ever. There are times when the JV squad could actually do better.

  7. Gretchen

    I would have preferred either one to Romney. I don’t know what would have happened in the general election. Neither does anyone else.

  8. Blue Yeti
    C

    Listen to today’s Ricochet Podcast for (among other things) a spirited discussion of what a Santorum candidacy might have looked like. 

    Maggie Somavilla: I would have preferred either one to Romney. I don’t know what would have happened in the general election. Neither does anyone else. · in 0 minutes

  9. Frozen Chosen

    Yeah, just a minor issue – who’s going to be at the top of the ticket?!

    One of them lost his last election by 18% and one has never won a statewide election – tough choice!

  10. The King Prawn
    Frozen Chosen: Yeah, just a minor issue – who’s going to be at the top of the ticket?!

    One of them lost his last election by 18% and one has never won a statewide election – tough choice! · 6 minutes ago

    But both had something Romney never could: not being Romney.

  11. Gretchen
    Frozen Chosen: Yeah, just a minor issue – who’s going to be at the top of the ticket?!

    One of them lost his last election by 18% and one has never won a statewide election – tough choice! · 10 minutes ago

    Both would have been willing to attack the incumbent. Unlike the candidate we had.

  12. J Climacus

    Says it all that Laurel and Hardy couldn’t unify long enough even for their “Unity Ticket” to come into existence.

  13. The King Prawn

    One has to wonder what the primary would have been like without Romney in it.

  14. Crow
    Troy Senik, Ed. If they had secured the nomination, how would it have played out in the general election? 

    Well, at the very least, we would have answered one of the most pressing questions of contemporary American politics: will gay sex be allowed in the moon colony?

  15. Paul Erickson
    Mothership_Greg: 

    I’d still pay good money to see Obama debate Newt. · 5 hours ago

    Now, wait a minute.  Here’s the perfect revenue idea for Obama.  Almost no overhead cost, pure income.

    Who else would we pay to see Obama debate?

    Bibi Netanyahu comes to mind.

  16. James Of England
    The King Prawn

    Frozen Chosen: Yeah, just a minor issue – who’s going to be at the top of the ticket?!

    But both had something Romney never could: not being Romney. · 4 hours ago

    This was an extraordinarily powerful myth at the beginning of the primaries, with endless pundits noting that if you combined the “not Romney” votes, there was a strong support for a “not Romney” candidate.

    The presumption was that most people were voting on a flow chart that started “Romney or Not Romney” and only then proceeded to “if Not Romney, Which ABR?” Polls that asked people’s second choices were always clear that this was a myth with no truth to it. The actual results were always clear that this was a myth with no truth to it. There was a phenomenon whereby individual candidates would shoot up and be applauded, but those really were supported by people liking those candidates; not everyone who liked Cain liked Santorum, and vice versa.

    I read the story as “the two campaigns came close to a stunt”.  I can’t believe that at that stage either would have thought that the ABR myth was real.

  17. James Of England
    Quixotic: Why stronger than “Meh,” Mr. Finlay?

    Because Romney wouldn’t get out of way.

    And he spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative campaigning  so he could climb over the corpses of candidates who did have a lot to commend themselves (and a miniscule portion on positive campaigning, confirming Romney’s own view that he had little to offer.)

    And as a result of Romney’s efforts, we now have Obama Unbound. · 3 hours ago

    Romney spent “hundreds of millions of dollars on negative campaigning”?  It seems like this data failure is a helpful frame for the other question; who would he get out of the way for? King of Bain Gingrich, Santorum, or some other candidate?

  18. Gretchen
    Richard Finlay: I still don’t understand the visceral antipathy toward Romney.  Unimpressive? Okay.  Disagree? Okay.  Not a “real” conservative? Okay.  But why anything stronger than “Meh?” · 4 hours ago

    He ran a bad campaign? Would not or could not attack Obamacare? Would not say much of anything negative about Obama? He managed to be plenty negative against his competition in the primary. Where did that go?

  19. The King Prawn
    James Of England This was an extraordinarily powerful myth at the beginning of the primaries, with endless pundits noting that if you combined the “not Romney” votes, there was a strong support for a “not Romney” candidate.

    The presumption was that most people were voting on a flow chart that started “Romney or Not Romney” and only then proceeded to “if Not Romney, Which ABR?” Polls that asked people’s second choices were always clear that this was a myth with no truth to it. The actual results were always clear that this was a myth with no truth to it. There was a phenomenon whereby individual candidates would shoot up and be applauded, but those really were supported by people liking those candidates; not everyone who liked Cain liked Santorum, and vice versa.

    Speaking only for myself, the mythical syphilitic camel of our primary posts was preferable to Romney, with or without the genital warts. Harsh, yes, but true.

  20. James Of England
    The King Prawn

    James Of England This was an extraordinarily powerful myth at the beginning of the primaries, with endless pundits noting that if you combined the “not Romney” votes, there was a strong support for a “not Romney” candidate….

    Speaking only for myself, the mythical syphilitic camel of our primary posts was preferable to Romney, with or without the genital warts. Harsh, yes, but true. · 1 minute ago

    Sure. Apparently this was true of many people who posted to Redstate, and who talked to Sean Trende. It was never true of significant numbers of voters.

    You can see a version of this in last week’s podcast, where Keith Urbahn, billed as “one of the most plugged in members of the movement” said that CPAC was traditionally hostile ground for Romney. Romney won or came second to non-contender Ron Paul every CPAC straw poll from 2007-2012.

    There appears to be an unfortunate confusion for many people between the statements “I dislike Romney” and “Conservatives dislike Romney”. I don’t think that you suffered from this, KP, but remains disturbingly common.