March 22nd, 2013
10:41 AM ET
7 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. rs


    as someone recently said, as a party, the GOP is now post-policy. This means they essentially stand for nothing except to be 180 degrees away from whatever position the President of the United States takes.

    This explains why the GOP can in one moment say one thing (like: Boehner yesterday supporting background checks, then his office staing that in fact he does not). Remember all of the "retractions from Romney's staff during the election? Especially around abortion? The man was all over the place.
    McConnell filibusters his own bills.
    It is a very new brand of being utterly meaningless (and in fact worthless).

    Until the GOP returns to its roots, it is DOA.

    March 22, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. steve

    To bad it didn't happen. After they were completely trounced in the general election it would have but the right wing nutters in their place and the gop could have moved on.

    March 22, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Republican deniers just don't get it. Romney didn't lose because he was a moderate and not conservative enough. He lost because he moved too far to the right of political spectrum pandering to Tea Partiers, social conservatives, and anit-immigration groups. A conservative dream team of Gingrich/Santorum would not have done any better.

    March 22, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. ptw

    A Gingrich-Santorum ticket (Gingrich would have to be on top of the ticket. His ego wouldn't allow him to be subordinate) would have indeed changed the general election: Obama would have won by more.

    March 22, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. jonnyg

    Hard to beat Santa Claus (the promise of free flowing entitlements by Democrats)
    90% of the media coverage is pro liberalism
    People are a product of brain washing by the liberal education system
    Persecution of religion
    Too many RINOS with no backbone in the GOP

    March 22, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Sniffit

    "What foiled the conservative dream ticket?"


    March 22, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Michigan Voter

    Larry. Moe and Curly

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

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

    Oh, come on. Seriously? They could have flipped a coin for all I care. Neither of these two (or any other Republican) was going to win the presidency in 2012.

    And it looks as if 2016 is going to be a repeat performance. There is no viable candidate in the Grand Old Party.

    March 22, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. ultralance12

    God knew that to many democrats would die laughing if he allowed that to come to fruition.

    March 22, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. jane

    Take another look at the picture accompanying this item. Need you ask????

    March 22, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. chilly g

    americans will never elect someone like those two guy mention in this post , the majority of americans are morden
    peoples and not like the haters rick and newt.

    March 22, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. doverby

    Dream ticket? More like Nightmare ticket, especially if Santorum was on the top of it.

    March 22, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    They cannot be serious. The morally righteous of the righteous think cheating husband like Gingrich would have been ideal for some sort of dream ticket? I suppose that the word hypocrisy doesn't actually exist within their bubble world.

    They're right about one thing, though. Romney was the wrong candidate, but not because he wasn't conservative enough. Mitt was just out of touch, and typified why most business candidates are unsuited for elected office. It's not exclusively about the money, and the fact that conservatives are so fixated on that aspect speaks volumes. It's really all about The People.

    March 22, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. freedom

    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 – more republicans should have voted), socialists, America-haters.

    March 22, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Leisa

    More like the Democratic dream ticket. These two clowns would have lost in larger numbers than Willard did.

    March 22, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Bill

    They look like Manny, Moe & Jack. Except Manny, Moe and Jack stand for something and garner respect. The GOP – a party lost in the wilderness for another decade.

    March 22, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Wake up People!

    OMG! What big egos they have. Couldn't decide who gets to be the top. Priceless. Please GOP, I'm begging you. Run these two in 2016!! Between Newt and his hypocritical, philandering ways and Santorum and his wish to head back to 1950, throw Akin in the mix talking about shutting that whole thing down, and the dems could run Big Bird and win.

    Please GOP! In the words of Spike Lee.....

    Hillary 2016!

    March 22, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Tea Party Thomas

    Santorum would make a great president.

    March 22, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Tony in Maine

    Their message – a return to 1950 when men were white and every one else knew their place.

    March 22, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. RomneyWho

    Unbelievable these republicans are, acknowledging everything except the obvious truth . . . When it come to the Obama machine, these "Yahoo" , every last one of them, were out of their league. The whole nation, no the entire world looked upon the republican party and leadership as "Clowns" no other term can best describe them, then clueless, scary and pathetic clowns. Election night was priceless and short . . . The faces of the republican conservative supporters and their leaders, were sad and dumfounded as they scramble to pinch themselves in hope that it was all a nightmare . . . That night, that wonderful and glorious night, I laughed myself to the point and state of euphoria . . . 😦

    March 22, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. chill

    It would have changed the general election results? You bet. The GOP would have been crushed. Just once I'd like to see them run one of their fringe conservative extremists and get crushed. Then they would have to decide if they want to make a point and thereby force the creation of a more centrist party or win elections by moving back to the middle.

    March 22, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Would've, could've, should've but didn't! None of these reside in the realm of reality. Pie in the sky suppositions and scenarios that serve absolutely no purpose and do not affect the outcome.
    YOU LOST!!
    Get a grip, buy a life, and move the hell on, or at the very least let US move on with or without you.

    March 22, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    There was no chance any of those republicans were going to win. The primary process made them air out all of their dirty laundry for us to hear. The best candidate they had was Huntsman and they threw him under the bus. I'd like to argue that Newt helped the Obama campaign. That lovely 30 minute infomercial that was running in South Kakalaki describing Willard's vulture capitalism days at Bain really helped the President.

    March 22, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. king

    all these repubs want to do is suck up tax payer money to fight wars and nation building in other countries, while leaving middle class and the poor to fend for themselves, as our nation infrastructure rots away.

    March 22, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. 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.
    You've got your Christie who's too caught up in his own ego to duly listen to both sides, and whose recent shenanigans in his own state vis-a-vis it's infrastructure and job opportunities have given me a complete glimpse into what makes this man tick. Huntsman appears to be too intelligent and easily silenced by the cacophony of nutjobs in the Reich wing.
    Who's left...?
    Nobody but the usual suspects and the newly minted tokens who aren't worth the price of admission: Rubio and the Doctor.
    Somebody better get busy procreating or this once venerable Party is headed towards irrevocable extinction.

    March 22, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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