Gingrich urged to drop out to coalesce conservative vote behind Santorum
MANASSAS, VIRGINIA, March 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A leading conservative activist is calling for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to bow out of the 2012 presidential campaign, so the anti-Romney vote can coalesce around Rick Santorum.
“As Ohio proved, all that is lacking is a united conservative movement to put Santorum over the top,” said Richard Viguerie, who has been active in Republican politics for more than 50 years, in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com.
“Looking at last night’s numbers, it has become increasingly clear that the former Speaker can either be a kingmaker or a spoiler, because, to unite conservatives, Gingrich would have to suspend his campaign and endorse Rick Santorum for the Republican nomination for president,” he said.
After prevailing in his must-win home state of Georgia, Gingrich failed to come in second place anywhere else, including the Southern states of Tennessee – where the state’s former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson campaigned for him – or Oklahoma. In five states, he came in fourth.
That spells trouble for the candidate who banked on his appeal to Southern voters.
The Santorum campaign itself has stopped short of asking Newt to drop out, but his supporters made the case today. The Red, White, and Blue Fund – the super PAC supporting Santorum – issued a statement saying, “With Gingrich exiting the race it would be a true head-to-head race and conservatives would be able to make a choice between a consistent conservative in Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney.” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond replied the “same logic applies in reverse.”
Gingrich rebuffed such notions on Bill Bennett’s radio program this morning, stating Santorum is not a “slam dunk” to defeat Romney. His adviser, Vince Haley, told Laura Ingraham, on the contrary, Romney should drop out, so Republicans can choose between two more conservative candidates.
Former candidate Herman Cain, who has endorsed the Speaker, wrote on his Facebook page today, “Folks, only 1/3 of the delegates have been allotted! It’s too soon to call on a candidate to withdraw from the race!”
The back-and-forth between the campaigns following last night’s Super Tuesday results renews a series of charges and counter-charges that the two candidates are splitting the Republican Party’s conservative majority, paving the way for a moderate candidate. Centrist or liberal Republicans such as Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain have had dismal showings in the general election, because they failed to turn out their base.
The Romney campaign, meanwhile, insists its delegate lead is insurmountable. To be nominated, a candidate must win 1,144 delegates. Romney currently has 415. Santorum and Gingrich combined have 285.
Adding the Santorum and Gingrich vote totals together would have surpassed Romney’s vote in states like Michigan. That leads conservatives like Viguerie, who operates ConservativeHQ.com, to say someone must place principle above personal interests.
In January, Gingrich suggested both Santorum and Rick Perry drop out of the race to allow him to win the South Carolina primary. Santorum said it took “an enormous amount of hubris for someone who lost their first two races” to make the suggestion.
On ABC’s This Week program Newt said, “We’re down basically to the fewer conservative [candidates] there are, the better we’re doing.”
“The fact is, when you combine the Santorum vote and the Gingrich vote…the conservative combined would clearly beat Romney,” he said.
If an endorsement is worked out, it will have to address Santorum’s greatest deficit: money. Gingrich has three times the campaign funds in reserve as Santorum does. Romney has nearly ten times as much.
“Such a decision would not be easy for Newt and the loyal band of supporters and staff that have kept his campaign alive through its many ups and downs,” Viguerie told LifeSiteNews. “However, a united conservative movement is perhaps the only thing that can prevent a Romney nomination and the debacle of four more years of an Obama presidency.”