The buzz over whom Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate has all but
consumed Washington, and the suspense is killing me — but the suspense
in the political universe of Rick Santorum is not. Turns out Santorum is
actually waiting to be given a speaking slot in Tampa at the Republican
National Convention. As the list of speakers trickles out — leading to
speculation that any names left off the roster remain on the shortlist
for vice presidential contention — Santorum (perhaps the last Republican
next to Newt Gingrich on the planet to be selected as a running mate)
is waiting for his speaking invitation.
As The Hill reported Monday, Santorum is concerned he hasn't received any indication, even privately, that the Romney campaign wants him to speak. Shocking. He seems to think his description of Romney as "the worst Republican" the party could put up against President Obama, as well as his refusal to give Romney an enthusiastic endorsement upon his own defeat, would have gone unnoticed. Sure, he endorsed Romney a month later in an email to supporters, but what could be more insulting?
In our paper Monday, Santorum's senior strategist, John Brabender, warned that conservatives would be "quite disturbed" if they felt Santorum wasn't given a prominent spot at the convention, and Brabender told The Hill that "to have him front and center would seem strategically like the right thing to do."
Santorum is holding an event in Tampa to rally conservatives behind Romney and after having won 11 primaries enjoys strong support from the party's base, particularly among social conservatives. But any decision to include popular figures on the right — like Santorum, Gingrich and Sarah Palin — poses a risk to Romney's appeal with swing voters. And the fact is Santorum made clear to his voters, after losing, that he felt little enthusiasm for Romney's candidacy. It's hard to see why Romney's team would feel enthusiastic about giving Santorum — a potential 2016 candidate — a platform in Tampa.
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