Today may be the day that Alabama and Mississippi are voting for a Republican presidential nominee, but the candidates are already looking long past this contest — and on to Tampa.
Yes, it’s finally time to start talking about a brokered convention.
It starts with Rick Santorum, who believes that he doesn’t really need to win enough delegates to be the nominee. As long as he can keep competitor Mitt Romney from getting enough, too, Santorum believes he could win in a head to head at the convention. “‘We’re going to see very shortly that the conservative in this race is going to rise … if we go to the convention, this is a conservative party…What chance to do we have in the general election if, with [Romney's] overwhelming financial advantage, he can’t deal a knockout blow?”
Santorum could be reading the tea leaves right, it seems. Based on CBS polling, Republican voters seem to prefer Santorum, even as they still believe Romney is likely to be the eventual nominee. “A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Rick Santorum holding a very slight lead over Mitt Romney among Republican primary voters across the nation, but GOP voters increasingly expect Romney to eventually win the nomination. In the survey conducted between March 7 and March 11, 34 percent of Republican primary voters said they support Santorum, compared to 30 percent for Romney…Regardless of whom they say they’ll vote for, however, an increasing number of Republican primary voters expect Romney will eventually become the party’s choice to do general election battle with President Obama.”
It can’t be good when the voters are saying that they would rather have the candidate they don’t expect to win actually get the nomination.
Romney, meanwhile, is trying to cut the brokered convention talk off early by playing the “you don’t want to help Obama, do you?” card. “Look, if we go all the way to a convention, we would be signaling our doom in terms of replacing President Obama… 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 campaign 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 is just not going to happen.”
Romney may want to avoid a brokered convention at all costs, but one person who would accept it gleefully? Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele. In fact, this was all part of his master plan. “We have captured the national imagination for the last year…That was not the case four years ago,” Steele told Mother Jones. “A little chaos is a good thing, particularly in a system that tends to be moribund.”
We’ll have to wait and see if Romney agrees.
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