by Paul Goldman
If Rick Santorum knew how to lose with dignity, he and his people could get a virtual veto over the VP slot, ala labor in 1948 on the Democratic side, Storm Thurmond in 1968 on the GOP side, Reaganites in 1976, etc.
Often, the VP is used to bind up the party so it is united going into the Fall election.
Clearly, Romney needs unity, and given that he is a pragmatic type, he would be willing to play nice on the VP slot. He still gets to pick the person, but the list of possible running mates is culled down to those that are acceptable to the anti-Romney forces.
It is a basic political equation: the weaker the presidential nominee, the more he has to give away on the VP spot to get unity.
Since Governor McDonnell is a Romney guy, he doesn’t bring a lot of unity in terms of the wings of the party. Accordingly, McDonnell needs Romney to have more, not less, freedom to choose a running mate.
Thus, the longer it takes for Romney to become the de facto guy with the party pulling behind him, the less power he has to dictate the nominee.
This is where Rick Santorum being a poor loser kicks in. The more Santorum attacks Romney at this point, the less anyone will listen to him or his people on the VP thing. Instead, he will be seen as only hurting the party for personal gain. So, his influence will wane.
Santorum’s attacks recently on Romney are angering Republicans who want to beat the President. The longer Santorum plays this “I don’t really care if Romney wins to be frank about it” role, the less his view on VP – or anything else – will matter.
Bottom line: If Santorum keeps this up, it will backfire on his wing of the party. This will give Romney more freedom to choose in the VP department.
That is good news for Governor McDonnell, who seems to be the person in the GOP most interested in swimming towards the Titanic, aka USS Mitt Romney. For whatever reason, McDonnell wants to jump on a sinking ship. I doubt if Santorum wants to see McDonnell on the ticket. But, at this rate, having Santorum against you might be a real plus by Convention time in August.