Spin Cycle

05.08.12

Santorum's Anemic E-Mail Endorsement

He finally backs Romney, but can't bring himself to utter the words

Could Rick Santorum possibly have delivered a more tepid endorsement of Mitt Romney than reducing it to an e-mail?


What, he couldn't access his Twitter account?


Isn't this one notch above breaking up with someone by text message?

santorum-suspends-campaign-no-money-cheat
Jeff Swensen / Getty Images


Look, it's clear there were plenty of bruised feelings between the two presidential candidates. But that's the nature of party primaries. When it's over, the loser is supposed to swallow his pride, step before the microphones and graciously back the winner.


Mitt Romney did it with John McCain. McCain did it with George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton did it with Barack Obama. And Rick Santorum...hit the send button.


Of course, there are delicate negotiations that precede such an event. Sometimes a deal is cut for the winner to help the loser pay off a mountain of campaign debt. Sometimes there are promises, vague or explicit, about a future administration job, or at least a prominent speaking slot at the convention.


Right now, the Romney campaign might want to bring Santorum on stage in Tampa at about 3 a.m.


Maybe the fault lies with Mitt. Maybe he lacked the right touch during their hourlong meeting in Pittsburgh last Friday, couldn't find the right words or incentives to get Rick to fully come on board.


But a late-night e-mail endorsement feels like Santorum having it both ways: not really endorsing, but able to tell the Republican Party that he fell into line. It seemed like a hold-your-nose moment.


An e-mail, of course, disappears into the ether. A statement in front of the television cameras, preferably alongside the nominee-in-waiting, produces a clip that can be endlessly replayed.


What's more, Santorum's e-mail is more about him than the fine qualities that Romney would bring to the Oval Office.


"I felt that it was completely impossible for me to even consider an endorsement until after a meeting to discuss issues critical to those of us who often feel our voices are not heard by the establishment: social conservatives, tea-party supporters, lower and middle income working families," he writes.


And: "I also shared with Governor Romney my belief that we cannot restore America as the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen until we return America to being a manufacturing superpower."


And: "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."


Translation: I wasn't kissing his ring, I was proferring my hand to see if he'd kiss mine.

Finally, Santorum gets around to saying that defeating President Obama is the most important thing and that Romney "has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime."

Maybe one day he'll allow the two of them to be photographed together and tweet it out.