March 22nd, 2013
10:41 AM ET
10 years ago

What foiled the conservative dream ticket?

(CNN) – For the subset of Republicans who viewed Mitt Romney as a Massachusetts moderate unfit for their party's presidential nomination, it could have been the dream ticket: Gingrich-Santorum for president.

Or was it Santorum-Gingrich for president?

According to a new report, the fight over whose name went atop the ballot ultimately foiled plans for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to join forces against Romney last year.

"We were close," former U.S. Rep. Bob Walker told Businessweek. Walker was a supporter of Gingrich's during the GOP primaries. "Everybody thought there was an opportunity."

John Brabender, a top campaign strategist for Santorum, told the magazine the proposed ticket "would have sent shock waves through the establishment and the Romney campaign."

The planning began after the Florida primary, the report states, when Gingrich and Romney launched a record-breaking amount of negative advertising at each other to try and wrap up the GOP nomination.

Romney won the contest, propelling him into front-runner status ahead of Gingrich and Santorum, who were battling for socially conservative voters wary of Romney.

At the time, Gingrich tried to frame the Florida result as a narrowing of the field, saying it was "now clear this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate."

However, Santorum characterized the Florida result as an indication of Gingrich's inability to build on his previous victory in South Carolina. The former Pennsylvania senator said conservatives were coalescing around his candidacy as the viable right-wing alternative to the more moderate Romney.

Both sides publically urged the other to drop out of the race, but behind the scenes, aides were batting around the idea of joint ticket, according to Businessweek's report. The negotiations ramped up ahead of the Michigan primary, which Gingrich and Santorum's staff regarded as a chance to stop Romney from sweeping up delegates.

But when it came time to decide who would run for president, and who would be the vice presidential candidate, the talks stalled.

Businessweek reports Gingrich "made an elaborate historical argument that when the party hasn't been able to agree on a nominee, it always settles on the senior figure."

But Santorum disagreed, arguing he had greater momentum among the conservative movement.

"I was disappointed when Speaker Gingrich ultimately decided against this idea, because it could have changed the outcome of the primary. And more importantly, it could have changed the outcome of the general election," Santorum told Businessweek.

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

Filed under: Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. RomneyWho

    They don't know that they all farted at the same time . . . Look at them just standing there with that guilty and embarrassing smirk on their faces, trying to look innocent. ๐Ÿ™

    March 22, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Tony

    Poor Republicans. They just don't get it. They want to pick two men who could not beat Romney?

    March 22, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Newt was the most capable candidate, whether you liked him or not.

    Romney was the one no one wanted, until he was basically forced upon the party by the party leaders, which played directly into Obama's hands, as Obama was already running against the wealthy, in preparation for Romney's nomination.

    You couldn't have had, a more stupid choice, given the huge advance preparation Obama had created, to defeat Romney. Almost ANY other option, would have been at least as successful.

    March 22, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    I would just like to say thank you Fox-lite for making my day with this article. This ticket is a dream come true.......for the democratic party.

    Best article I have read all week!!

    March 22, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    It is the party platform AND the candidates, GOPers.
    But, I suspect you all already know this anyway.
    Either change the platform or move on with the same old, same old.

    Bottom line: Your candidates and your platform is not my problem.

    March 22, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Newt was the most capable candidate, whether you liked him or not.
    I would agree with your assesment. Newt or Huntsman, but Newt had more experience under his belt.
    None of the clowns in the 2012 GOP clown car were viable, however.
    None of them would've won against Obama, the GOP made sure of that when they decided to block anything and everything the President proposed because their ONLY goal was to make him a one-term President.
    The GOP lost the 2012 presidential election in 2009 when they put their PARTY ahead of their COUNTRY by blocking and obstructing anything and everything THIS President tried to implement to get us out of a modern-day global economic Depression that coincidentally came about on the GOP's turn at the Oval Office.

    March 22, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC


    Lies about Benghazi before the election, fraud at the polls, hurricane photo-op in NJ, lazy, and unbelieveably stupid Americans not thinking for themselves (that includes both parties โ€“ more republicans should have voted), socialists, America-haters.
    You forgot about Romney claiming to have created 100,00 jobs, before he rolled it back to "tens of thousands", before he rolled it back to "thousands", which was just before he stopped talking about being a job creaor altogether.

    You forgot the "47%" video. You forgot the blatantly lying Jeep ad from the Romney campaign. And how could have possibly forgotten about Romney's world tour?

    March 22, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. Bob

    Rick McDaniel

    Newt was the most capable candidate, whether you liked him or not.
    Newt is a corrupt, philandering, conceited fool of a man. Too bad you didn't run him, he would have lost worse than Bishop Rmoney did.

    March 22, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Bob

    Tea Party Thomas

    Santorum would make a great president.


    Sure... of Iran.

    March 22, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. B.

    Ignorance and arrogance to start with, and being completely Out of Touch with the American people and what they voted to support.

    Huntsman was the most viable, intelligent person the Republicans had and they threw him out which isnโ€™t surprising.
    They put Double-talk Romney out front which describes how extreme the GOP is now.

    They also have obviously have not learned one thing from the Election as they continue to support ALL the same arrogant half-wits that they had lost the election with ! !

    March 22, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Let tell you something else, as someone who has voted Republican in the past, I don't think that the candidate who will make me vote Republican again has been born.

    For as much as I would like to LOL with you on this comment (and because I know your were serious) I won't. It's a sad, sad state of affairs for the GOP. And, I agree. I have yet to see anyone in the GOP that I feel would be a viable candidate. Rather than point fingers at Obama, it is high time the GOP take a deep breath, stop the tantrums, and work to find (not try to remake) a candidate who will work for all of us.

    I've got my eye on Huntsman as being the least offensive to my principles, and someone who, if push comes to shove in the Democratic party, I could support.

    March 22, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Stephen

    It's simple – both candidates were more concerned with personally getting power than seeing the changes they wanted in government (assuming both men legitimately believed the other would still be a good president). This happens on both sides of the aisle and is similar to the 2010 Florida Senate race. Charlie Crist was stunned by Marco Rubio in the Republican primary – he then changed many of his opinions to align more with the Democrats and ran as an Independent. Crist and the formal Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek, realized they'd split the less conservative vote amongst themselves and give Rubio an easy victory. They openly called on the other to drop out but neither side was willing to give up a potential Senate seat. Hence, Rubio won quite handily.

    This isn't to say Rubio might not have won if he were only against Meek (or Crist), but this type of occurrence is more proof that too many politicians put their personal ambition ahead of all else. Just take a look at the incredible influence lobbyists have on Congress...

    March 22, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Aaaw, so tragic...their relationship didn't work out because they're both "tops."

    March 22, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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