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Santorum and the RNC
His campaign is targeting the “super delegates.”

Kim Lehman (Dave Davidson/www.TEApublican.com)

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Robert Costa

Meanwhile, beyond the current push to win over delegates at the state level, the Santorum campaign is also contesting the results in Arizona and Florida, which were winner-take-all victories for Romney earlier this year. According to the RNC rules these two states should award their delegates proportionally, Yob said, and he plans to make an appeal before the RNC’s committee on credentials in August, a week before the convention.

Yob is also contesting the final result in Michigan, where Romney snagged both of the state’s at-large delegates. Santorum’s campaign insists that the Michigan GOP, by giving both of its delegates to Romney, bypassed its pledge to award the delegates proportionally.

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All of these battles share a purpose — to throw cold water on Romney’s creeping aura of inevitability by positioning Santorum as a delegate-rich contender. “If this race goes to the floor of the national convention, we view that as favorable terrain,” Yob says. Once the RNC settles its count, and the states wrap their conventions, he sees Santorum eclipsing Romney, or, at the very least, emerging as the darling of conservative delegates.

“We have a significant number of RNC members supporting Rick Santorum,” Yob says, “significantly more than the media counts of super delegates represent. We are talking to them about what the strategies at the national convention will be.” According to sources familiar with the campaign’s thinking, nimbly reaching out to Gingrich supporters and embracing the former speaker is part of the floor blueprint, as is connecting with Romney-friendly delegates with deep ties to the conservative movement.

But the immediate challenge is to contest Romney’s growing lead. That’s why the Santorum campaign is putting such an emphasis this week on RNC rules, state conventions, and delegate math. On the surface, they want to compete with Romney in upcoming primaries. Behind the scenes, they’re well aware that they’re being outgunned. So if they can’t beat him now, they want to be in a position to have one final shot in Tampa.

Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review.



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