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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Gingrich Doing The GOP A Favor By Blocking Romney From 1,144 Delegates?

By Susan Duclos

Newt Gingrich is hearing a lot of calls to drop out of the Republican presidential race after coming in second place in Alabama and Mississippi to which Rick Santorum came in first place, Mitt Romney third and Ron Paul last.

For many Republicans and conservative leaning supporters, Newt is doing them a huge favor by continuing. They are people who believe the absolute worst choice for the GOP is a Mitt Romney nomination and that the worst choice for president in 2013 would be Obama and second worst choice would be Mitt Romney because of his political record, changing positions and liberal leanings.


Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have made a point that gets mentioned then forgotten.

Santorum from his Alabama and Mississippi victory speech:

People have said, you know, "You're being outspent," and you know, everybody is talking about all the math and all the -- all the things that this race is inevitable.

Well, for someone who thinks this race is inevitable, he's spending a whole lot of money against me for being inevitable.

Newt Gingrich, via ABC News:

"I emphasize going to Tampa, because one of the things tonight proved is that the elite media’s effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed."

The optics of Romney winning Hawaii and American Samoa was severely countered by his inability to win down South in Alabama and Mississippi but instead placed third behind Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, despite his campaign and the pro-Romney superPAC, Restore Our Future, inundating the airwaves with campaign ads, outspending all the other candidates combined.

Romney also predicted he would "win Alabama" just a day before he placed third.

They say perception is reality and the optics of Romney not being able to close the deal with conservatives voters across geological divisions is reality. The bad optics of Romney coming in third after all that money spent on campaign ads and predicting an Alabama win, says more than any amount of words could.

Delegate Strategy

Campaign 2012 reports on Gingrich's strategy which is to block Mitt Romney from obtaining the 1,144 delegates a candidate needs to win the Republican nomination for president, thereby forcing the choice to be made at the Republican convention in August.

On election eve, after a long day of campaigning, Gingrich relaxed on a couch at the Wynfrey and vowed to keep challenging Romney through the summer -- long after the primaries have ended. If he can keep the former Massachusetts governor from hitting the 1,144 delegate mark, Gingrich said, "Then on the 26th of June, there's a real conversation. We haven't seen in our lifetime a situation where you actually had a political process beyond who wins the primaries." As he has several times in recent days, Gingrich brought up the case of Leonard Wood, the Army general who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1920.

"The reason I keep citing Leonard Wood is because in 1920, Wood goes into the convention as the frontrunner," Gingrich said. "[Warren G.] Harding goes in as the guy who's in sixth place, and at the end of ten ballots, Harding is the nominee and Wood is gone." More than 90 years later, that's the scenario Gingrich sees as his own path to victory.

Does Gingrich think that he would win the nomination if it came to a floor fight?

No one should presume to know what Gingrich's thought processes are and whether he really believes it or not.

With that said, if it did come to a floor fight, it is just as likely that Santorum or Gingrich could walk away with the nomination instead of Romney and that would be the ultimate gift to every person that believes Romney is the absolute worst choice for the nomination and the second worst choice for president behind Obama.

Sean Trende over at Real Clear Politics makes a very good point:

Gingrich may or may not believe that he can emerge victorious from such a convention; that’s beyond our understanding right now. But the 68-year-old politician knows he’s a lion in winter, and that this is probably his last campaign. This brings with it a certain amount of freedom. He’ll run the campaign the way he wants to, and play entirely by his own rules. Viewed in this light, going after debate moderators isn’t just playing to the crowd; it’s something he’s probably wanted to do in interviews and campaigns for years now, and hadn’t because consultants warned him off. He’s going to continue doing it his way, right to the end.

There is nothing Gingrich can be threatened with, no incentive anyone can offer him to force him to suspend his campaign. That decision rests solely on him.

March 17, 2012 is the Missouri caucus and in February they held their primary which did not award delegates but Rick Santorum won with 55 percent of the vote, Romney came in a distant second with only 25 percent of the vote.

March 18, 2012 is the Puerto Rico primary, March 20th is the Illinois primary and March 24th is the Louisiana primary. All of which show that Santorum is competitive which goes against the notion of Gingrich being a "spoiler" to Santorum.

(Full GOP Primary/Caucus Schedule HERE)

The Gingrich campaign recently issued a memo stating that Louisiana's primary on March 24 is just the halfway point in the campaign and the former House speaker had succeeded in a goal of blocking "an early Romney nomination."

This echoes a recently leaked memo from the Santorum campaign which outlines a strategy where he could unite voters in Tampa, which is where the Republican convention is to be held in August.

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey makes the point that this strategy is not so different than Gingrich's.

What this memo says is that Santorum wants to stay in the race just in case Romney’s candidacy implodes for some reason. That’s not a bad idea, and it won’t hurt to have an alternative with a functioning campaign if that happens. The same argument can be made for Newt Gingrich, too.

There is no question that Rick Santorum should stay in the race and fight up to the convention and Newt supporters and the anti-Romney bloc of conservatives would prefer to see a convention fight rather than a Romney nominee.

The Convention

A brokered convention occurs when there are not enough delegates “won” during the presidential primaries for a single candidate to have a majority during the first official vote at a party’s nominating convention. The nomination is then decided though political deals between candidates, party bosses and subsequent votes until one candidate receives a majority. (Source)

Both Santorum and Gingrich are betting on Mitt Romney not being able win a majority of the delegates at convention, making it a brokered convention, then the pledged delegates would be released and could switch allegiance for the next round of voting.

If Mitt Romney cannot get the 1,144 delegates before the GOP convention, then he will have proven he is incapable of closing the deal, uniting the Republican and conservative supporters and Gingrich, by staying in the race and helping to block Romney's "inevitable" nomination, will be doing those that refuse to back Romney, a huge favor.