Permalink to Well, This Would Have Been Weird

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?

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Members have made 38 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Mendel Member

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

    • #1
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:12 am
  2. Profile photo of Paul Erickson Member

    How would it have played in the general election?

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

    • #2
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:16 am
  3. Profile photo of kgrant67 Inactive

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

    • #3
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:19 am
  4. Profile photo of Mendel Member
    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.

    • #4
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:21 am
  5. Profile photo of Troy Senik Editor
    Troy Senik Post author

    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.

    • #5
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:27 am
  6. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member
    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.

    • #6
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:32 am
  7. Profile photo of Gretchen Inactive

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

    • #7
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:34 am
  8. Profile photo of Inactive
    Anonymous

    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
    • #8
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:36 am
  9. Profile photo of Frozen Chosen Thatcher

    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!

    • #9
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:38 am
  10. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member
    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.

    • #10
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:47 am
  11. Profile photo of Gretchen Inactive
    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.

    • #11
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:50 am
  12. Profile photo of J Climacus Member

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

    • #12
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:52 am
  13. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

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

    • #13
    • March 22, 2013 at 11:55 am
  14. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member
    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?

    • #14
    • March 23, 2013 at 2:44 am
  15. Profile photo of Paul Erickson Member
    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.

    • #15
    • March 23, 2013 at 3:52 am
  16. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    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.

    • #16
    • March 23, 2013 at 4:41 am
  17. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    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?

    • #17
    • March 23, 2013 at 4:46 am
  18. Profile photo of Gretchen Inactive
    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?

    • #18
    • March 23, 2013 at 5:15 am
  19. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member
    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.

    • #19
    • March 23, 2013 at 7:31 am
  20. Profile photo of James Of England Moderator
    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.

    • #20
    • March 23, 2013 at 8:09 am
  21. Profile photo of Mothership_Greg Inactive

    How could Rick Santorum possibly associate himself with Gingrich, given Newt’s penchant for murdering babies in China and whatnot?

    • #21
    • March 23, 2013 at 9:19 am
  22. Profile photo of Adam Koslin Inactive

    Republicans would have been slaughtered with a Gingrich/Santorum ticket. Instead of forcing the Obama campaign to run a consistently negative campaign, fending off a challenge on the one issue where the President was vulnerable – the economy’s miserable state – the GOP’s selection of Gingrich and Santorum would have enabled the Democrats to go on autopilot and turn just about every aspect of the campaign over to the internet’s wannabe Jon Stewarts and Steven Colberts. 

    Romney/Ryan’s economic credentials had to be attacked. Gingrich/Santorum’s main strengths – megalomania and social conservatism, respectively – would just have been mocked. Mockery is the one political weapon more potent than the attack.

    • #22
    • March 23, 2013 at 10:05 am
  23. Profile photo of Mothership_Greg Inactive

    I have to confess that I’ve come to regret my Gingrich primary vote. Shoulda voted Roemer.

    I’d still pay good money to see Obama debate Newt.

    • #23
    • March 23, 2013 at 10:13 am
  24. Profile photo of Brasidas Inactive
    Troy Senik, Ed. 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.

    My thoughts exactly. Well put, Troy.

    • #24
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm
  25. Profile photo of Southern Pessimist Member

    “I’m not sure that “almost agreed” is the correct terminology when the stumbling block was who was on top of the ticket.”

    Someone help me out here. What is the term for words that negate their meaning when they are used together. Like jumbo shrimp or military intelligence as George Carlin used to say. “Almost agreed” would fit that.

    • #25
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm
  26. Profile photo of jarhead Inactive

    I didn’t like or support either one of them. At best, it would have been a marriage of convenience. At its worst, it would have led to a quickie divorce after the primary season but before it ever reached the convention. I’m not convinced that even if they had united, they would have knocked Mitt out of the race, although they might have defeated him from getting the nomination.

    • #26
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm
  27. Profile photo of Quinn the Eskimo Member

    The reminder of the available options from 2012 is depressing.

    I have to say that the idea of setting up this Unity Ticket for the general election on the basis of not being Romney is simply weird. Barack Obama runs as Barack Obama against McCain, not on being the un-Hillary Clinton. George W. Bush does not run against Gore as the un-McCain. The only time I think we ever saw something close was when Bob Dole won the primaries for not being Buchanan.

    • #27
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm
  28. Profile photo of Mendel Member
    Maggie Somavilla
    Frozen Chosen: 

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

    And given Gingrich’s ego and both men’s demeanors, it would have been only a matter of time before they began attacking each other as well.

    • #28
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm
  29. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    I would have supported Newt, because it would have been hilarious. It would have stood for something other than not being Obama, even if it was its own particular brand of crazy.

    oh and ABR.

    Batcrap insane > Romney

    • #29
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm
  30. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Newt Gingrich cheered me during many of the debates with his clear and concise grasp of how to frame the questions correctly, but Rick Santorum discomfits me. I think it would have been a terrible mistake on both of their parts and would have failed completely to consolidate conservative support — it would only have confused people and made the Republican brand seem even more bewildering and unsupportable.

    • #30
    • March 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm
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