Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Politics

Gingrich camp talks of shared ticket with Santorum

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Just a few days out from the Wisconsin primary, Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, officially opened their state headquarters in Green Bay, a hotbed of Republican voters in the state.

But for cynics who think the grand opening is just a shell game of keeping up appearances (recent polls show Gingrich running fourth behind Ron Paul in the state), the campaign would say they’re severely misguided: this office will be open through November, and it’s part of a grand strategy of securing the nomination in Tampa.

While Wisconsin will award delegates mostly in a winner-take-all fashion, there’s opportunity for a non-winner to take delegates if they win a congressional district, and the campaign is hoping to do well in the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses Callista’s hometown of Whitehall and whose former representative, Steve Gunderson, was her boss when she worked as a staffer on the Hill.

But whatever happens in Tuesday’s primary, state campaign director Robert Lorge says his mission post-primary will be to help Gingrich persuade what he calls  “soft delegates” here in the state to support him: 3 RNC delegates, plus the 3 delegates from each of the eight congressional districts who could become unbound at the convention.

“Newt is going to be focusing on soft delegates, unbound delegates, and of course all of the delegates are unbound after the second ballot,” Lorge told Fox News. “This election is going to be very much like the 1920s Warren Harding Republican Convention. General Leonard Wood went in there with 30 percent of the delegates and thought he had it made. Warren Harding went in with 6 percent of the delegates. After ten ballots, Harding had 70 percent.”

Until Mitt Romney secures 1,144 delegates, Gingrich has been clear he will stay in the race. Lorge is of the school of thought that Romney won’t make the cut, and moving forward, there will be a highly contested battle for delegates.

“Newt’s the only candidate that realizes this battlefield is almost done, but the coming battlefield is the convention,” Lorge said. “Like all true leaders, he’s the first one on to that battlefield. He’s going to be focusing on contacting those delegates, particularly the soft delegates, but all the delegates even the alternates.”

Lorge said that in conference calls with the national team there has been discussion about the possibility of consolidating Santorum and Gingrich delegates at the Republican National Convention in order to overcome Romney’s delegate math.

“I imagine there’s going to be a lot of negotiation and compromising between the pro-Newt Gingrich and the pro-Rick Santorum delegates,” he said. “You may have a Newt Gingrich-Rick Santorum ticket. You may have a Rick Santorum-Newt Gingrich ticket. Nobody knows how that ticket’s going to work out. But I imagine it’ll end up being something like that.”

Pointing to Gingrich’s accomplishments in the House, Lorge believes delegates will see that his candidate is the only one with the experience necessary to be the White House.

“America is a republic,” Lorge said. “We’re not a democracy. We don’t believe in mob rule. We hire people by electing them to represent us. We’re a representative democracy, that’s what we talk about. Our Founding Fathers were very wise in not having a straight, pure democracy. We have a republic for a reason so that wiser decisions, calm decisions can be made in the best interest of the nation as a whole and that is what Newt Gingrich is all about.”

The amount of chaos and strategy that would be involved in the open convention scenario is so mentally demanding that it’s hard to imagine any other candidate but Newt Gingrich believing it is possible. And perhaps the reckless challenge of it all is giving the candidate a new skip in his step. It’s hard not to notice that Newt Gingrich is laughing more on the campaign trail these days. Shaking hands at the ropeline, Gingrich has the habit of leaning back for a good belly laugh – the consummate cheerful candidate.

Amid all the talk about campaign downsizing, Newt Gingrich still has his campaign bus. On Friday, his motorcade moved northbound on the interstate from Milwaukee to Green Bay, escorted by state trooper cars and black SUVs. Since arriving here in Wisconsin on Thursday, in addition to campaigning, he and his wife Callista have toured the Harley Davidson museum (on Twitter, he called the company’s near bankruptcy and recovery “a great American success story") and dropped by Leon’s Frozen Custard in Oshkosh (where they split a vanilla and chocolate custard).

But there is also the cold, hard reality of running at the back of the pack. The crowds that show up at his rallies are smaller. There’s no longer an advance team traveling with Gingrich and setting up his events. His entourage has been downsized to just three people: his press secretary and two staffers who help out with daily activities. And his bodyman, Andrew Bell, a constant presence since his days in Iowa, has been sent back to his home state of North Carolina to help with the ground game there.

Arriving at a tailgate across the street from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Gingrich declared that until Mitt Romney secures the nomination, he and Callista are “deeply committed” to going to Tampa. 

“While I am committed to party unity, I think it ought to be party unity for a purpose with a platform that matters and with ideas that enable us to say to the American people if you hire us,” he said. “We’re not just anti-Obama, we are pro-success for America and here are ideas that will make America successful."