TribLIVE

| Politics


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Foes no longer: Rivals step up for presidential chase

By Brad Bumsted and Salena Zito
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012
 

TAMPA — As the last candidate standing against Mitt Romney in the grueling presidential primary, Rick Santorum could define his future in politics with his speech Tuesday to the Republican National Convention.

The former Pennsylvania senator endorsed Romney in May but will do so again “on a much larger scale and on a much larger stage,” said G. Terry Madonna, a Franklin & Marshall College professor attending as a TV analyst, because Santorum “wants a future in the party.”

It's unclear whether Santorum or any of Romney's seven other GOP challengers this year could become viable candidates if the presumptive nominee loses in November. Analysts disagree, and delegates here insist that Romney won't fail to oust President Obama.

Romney emerged the victor among nine primary contenders and will accept the party's nomination on Thursday night. Finishing second in the delegate count gives Santorum standing for a 2016 run if Romney loses in November, but he'd likely face emerging contenders such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, experts say.

“You cannot rule out Rick,” Gov. Tom Corbett said on Monday, though he cited Rubio and a number of governors as rising party leaders.

A convention speech can draw attention to a politician, said James Broussard, a Lebanon Valley College history professor who is attending.

“Based on the primary, everyone had a rise and fall,” Broussard said. “Santorum stayed up the longest.”

In an opinion piece in The Hill on Monday, Santorum urged Americans to choose freedom, not dependency.

“Sadly, it turns out that the vision and agenda behind Obama's ‘hope and change' message was not to bring America together through our common bond of freedom and opportunity but to push us back into a culture of big government and dependency,” he wrote. “ … As for me and my house, we choose freedom. We choose Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.”

If Romney loses, Broussard said, “conservatives will raise the question, ‘Did Romney lose because he didn't fire up the base?' And they'll look at Santorum and the others and ask, ‘What did they do?' ”

Based on their convention activities, many of the losing candidates are rapidly closing ranks.

Santorum and wife Karen on Wednesday will host a “Patriots for Romney/Ryan” rally, his first high-profile event as part of his new political action committee, Patriot Voices.

Retiring Texas Congressman Ron Paul's son Rand, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, will speak in his father's stead. Paul and Atlanta businessman Herman Cain held events near the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich held workshops.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry headlined campaign events in Texas, Nevada and Iowa. His wife hosted a fundraiser in Texas with Romney's wife, Ann.

Though no surrogate's endorsement or speech means much to anyone, except perhaps those who attend conventions, losing politicians want attention, said Bert Rockman, a political scientist at Purdue University. A few, he said, “hold onto the possibility that they will run for the presidency again.”

Yet it's symbolic for voters when contentious primary challengers unify to stump for a nominee.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton, then a U.S. senator from New York, urged her supporters to back Obama after their ugly fight for the Democratic nomination. She became Obama's secretary of State.

Clinton's endorsement was significant, said Christopher Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University in Ohio, because Obama needed her help “moving the women vote in his direction.”

Gaining the backing of challengers is important because today's nomination process lasts longer than it once did, Kelley said. Until the 1970s, the public remained largely unaware of fighting over nominations that party leaders did in private.

“We have abandoned the nominating convention to pick the nominees, in favor of political primaries and caucuses,” Kelley said.

Unity matters because the party faithful don't want their nominee to waste time soothing conflict — and no one wants to be the spoiler who costs the party an election, Kelley said. Ron Paul, for example, is focused on his legacy and “won't want to be remembered as the man who lost the GOP the election,” he said.

Pennsylvania delegates hold mixed views on who might run in 2016 or 2020. Predicting politics is difficult, said Jim Roddey, chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Committee.

Dick Stewart, a New Cumberland attorney who chairs the state Republican Party's Central Caucus, doesn't think Santorum “would have any traction” for another run. Perry, he said, “would have to take debate lessons, but he's from Texas so you can't discount him.”

On the other hand, Stewart said, Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, would be a top contender. Ryan has “really got the base excited, and I think he's got Romney excited.”

Brad Bumsted and Salena Zito are staff writers for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bumsted@tribweb.com and she can be reached at szito@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Port Authority says interest high for free fare zone sponsorship
  2. Jamison fans are still cheering on ‘Voice’ singer from Ross Township
  3. Steelers notebook: Chiefs pass rush to test Steelers
  4. Luck looks foward to new opportunity with NCAA
  5. ‘Foxcatcher’ filmmaker Miller drawn to odd story
  6. Ski wear is not just for the mountain anymore
  7. Fashion FYI: Anais Anette trunk show set for Lawrenceville’s Glitter & Grit
  8. Penguins notebook: Zatkoff returns to team as Fleury’s backup
  9. Philadelphia mother pleads guilty as boy, 2, shoots, kills sister
  10. Greensburg Salem’s Oberdorf on early-season scoring binge
  11. Review: Witherspoon loses her vanity and herself in ‘Wild’
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.