A Tale of Two Endorsements
Within the last week Mitt Romney has received the formal endorsements of the last two candidates to depart the GOP primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. However it would be deceptive to consider both of them on the same level – in content, context and clarity.
While both have clearly and concisely stated they are adamantly supportive of defeating President Obama, beyond that there are few aspects between the two that are similar.
On Face The Nation this past Sunday, Gingrich said:
We’ve had change. More Americans have lost jobs. More Americas have had their homes foreclosed. More Americans have paid more for gasoline. More Americans have been driven into poverty. We’ve seen a lot of change under Barack Obama. The sad thing is, almost all of it’s been negative.
He can dance all he wants to. In the end, this campaign is real simple. Could you really afford four more years of a failed presidency?
In his email letter to his supporters on Monday night, Santorum said:
Freedom and personal responsibility are being replaced with big government dependency. The greatest and most productive workers in the world are being hamstrung by excessive regulations making it impossible to compete. Our healthcare system had been socialized, and the worth of each life dictated by some government bureaucrat. Our allies are insulted while our enemies are appeased. And our religious beliefs and freedom have come under attack.
What is even more troubling is what a second term of an Obama administration could bring. President Obama’s admission to the Russians that he will have more flexibility in a second term can only be translated to “if you thought I was liberal in the first four years you haven’t seen anything yet!”
Certainly both are committed to defeating Barack Obama but how committed are they to truly helping Gov. Romney accomplish that goal. Looking more closely at the two, there seem to be diverging paths.
Also on Sunday morning Gingrich said:
Mitt Romney is a solid conservative. I think you have to come down to what’s the choice this November, and the choice is the most radical president in American history and a failed president at the economy and somebody who has a solid record on jobs and who in fact, on basic principles is a conservative.
In his Monday night letter Santorum stated:
During our meeting I felt a deep responsibility to assess Governor Romney’s commitment to addressing the issues most important to conservatives, as well his commitment to ensuring our appropriate representation in a Romney administration.
Gingrich was unequivocal in his statement while Santorum allowed that conservative values may or may not be tantamount in a Romney platform.
The former Speaker went on to say:
I’ll do everything I can to help elect Romney and I’ll do everything I can to help the Senate and to help the House Republicans. I’m not sure what endorsement means beyond that. I will be campaigning with Mitt in the near future.
The former Senator also stated in his email:
My conversation with Governor Romney was very productive, but I intend to keep lines of communication open with him and his campaign. I hope to ensure that the values that made America that shining city on the hill are illuminated brightly by our party and our candidates thus ensuring not just a victory, but a mandate for conservative governance.
Gingrich made it very clear that he was prepared to set aside any differences he may have with Romney and go to work. Santorum’s statement is far less precise and borders on obfuscation as to exactly what he is ready to do with the campaign directly.
Last night on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno tried to get the former Senator to quantify his letter.
Santorum explained that it was a letter to his supporters telling them why they should “rally around Mitt Romney” and he explained that he “laid out, sort of, the case and just said, you know, ‘here’s sort of what we went through.’”
Again a less than emphatic statement of support and with no clear path to action on Santorum’s part.
Perhaps the most troubling paragraph in Santorum’s email, especially given the recent debacle over hiring Ric Grenell, the subsequent attacks from Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, and Grenell’s resignation, reads:
As it is often said, “personnel is policy.” I strongly encouraged Governor Romney as he builds out his campaign staff and advisors that he add more conservative leaders as an integral part of his team. And you can be sure that I will work with the Governor to help him in this task to ensure he has a strong team that will support him in his conservative policy initiatives.
This is the closest statement of action Santorum has made since suspending his campaign and it is disconcerting because he uses the exact same phrase that Fischer used in a tweet assailing the Romney campaign for hiring Ric, and the only action referenced is ensuring Romney has people on his team of which Santorum approves.
In politics things are rarely as they seem and there are outside influences that could be at work here. Gingrich has considerably more campaign debt than Santorum (don’t for a moment kid yourself that this does not factor into the equation here); Newt has consistently been the “party cheerleader” throughout the primary season and the debates; and Santorum did enjoy a greater success in the primaries than Gingrich so he may feel he’s in a stronger position.
Any or all of these could have impact on the discernibly different attitudes of Gingrich and Santorum, but of the two endorsements only one seems to fit the true definition and it’s not the one delivered in a late night letter via email. Only time will tell if Santorum’s “non-endorsement endorsement” has positive effect.