The Corner

Romney Wins over Donors by Warning of Huckabee-Palin Ticket at Convention

The Romney campaign, renowned for its oppo-heavy strategy, didn’t even have an oppo book on Rick Santorum a few days before the Iowa caucuses, so surprised were they by his surge. Jon Huntsman nearly decided in November to leave the GOP and run as an independent. And before one of the debates, Rick Perry sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in a restroom. These details are from Mike Allen and Evan Thomas’ new e-book, Inside the Circus, as are these additional factoids below.

Mitt Romney raised millions in March by warning would-be donors a brokered convention could mean a Huckabee-Palin ticket:

[O]n March 14 and 15, Romney had raised over $3 million in New York and Connecticut. … The Romney campaign had a clever pitch for the event. Schmoozing with his money pals before the events, a Romney fund-raiser pointed out that “slightly more than half the delegates” to the GOP convention at Tampa “are evangelicals.” These true-believer conservatives are averse not only to Romney but to semi-reasonable types like Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. As a result, said this fund-raiser, the “responsible Republican guys” are “starting to realize” that at a brokered convention “it’s not going to be Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, a ticket they could really love. It’s probably Huckabee-Palin or Palin-Huckabee.” That was enough to scare the Wall Street crowd into getting out their checkbooks.

#more#Romney could have gotten Jeb Bush’s endorsement earlier:

Sources close to him told us that Bush had actually been ready to endorse Romney in late January, but on a telephone call on the night of the Florida primary, Romney had somehow failed to ask, but did seek advice on getting the support of Senator Marco Rubio.

The Romney campaign was opposed to the way the RNC structured the voting calendar this year:

In fact, at RNC meetings in 2010, Romney’s close adviser Ron Kaufman had tried, unsuccessfully, to get some big states like New Jersey and New York moved up in the calendar so Romney could strike an early knockout blow. A Romney adviser blamed the former RNC chief Michael Steele for the forced-march calendar. “He was completely incompetent,” said the adviser, who talks often to big GOP donors.

Romney took advantage of Santorum’s penchant for answering questions directly at a debate:

That night, at the GOP debate—the candidates’ twentieth and possibly last—Romney sat back and looked mostly bemused as Santorum tried, with an almost painful earnestness, to explain his votes as a U.S. senator. At one point, discussing his support for federal intervention in public schools, Santorum said, “I admit I voted against my principles, but politics is a team sport.” … “Rick always takes the bait!” exclaimed a senior Romney adviser in Washington the next morning over breakfast. Romney’s strategy, he said, was not to attack but to let Santorum explain his votes for wasteful government spending, like the so-called Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska. The adviser, a lobbyist, had worked with Santorum in Washington. “He’s a really sincere guy, and he’ll answer questions. I went to one of his town halls up in New Hampshire. The average answer was five or six minutes. A guy asked him, ‘Are you going to go to war with Iran?’ and he starts explaining the difference between the Sunnis and the Shiites.”

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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