Remember when I was reporting on, and pushing a discussion of, a movement to draft Bobby Jindal or Paul Ryan? Well, Jim Geraghty has almost the entire story here, one I could not ethically report at the time. The long and short of it was that serious people were considering a write-in effort in New Hampshire. It has worked before. It, or a version of it, came closer than anyone knew. Of course, it would have eventually required the cooperation of reluctant non-candidates, but, hey, that’s what “draft” movements are all about: convincing reluctant non-candidates to become candidates after all.
Now this was before many people were accepting the idea that Rick Santorum actually had a real shot to move into the top tier of candidates. It clearly, then, was no knock on Santorum: The “consultants” were not considering him a bad potential nominee; they were just considering him a politically improbable one. But it WAS a major knock on Gingrich and Romney, who were the front-runners at the time. It shows that a lot of serious people saw then what is still true today, which is that both Gingrich and Romney would make extremely weak general-election candidates against Barack Obama.
As Geraghty reports:
The low expectations for a write-in bid added to the appeal of the plan; if the write-in bid finished with only a few percentage points, no harm was done. But a third- or second-place finish would generate enormous discussion.
It’s almost certainly too late now for such a plan to work. For those who fear a devastating loss with Gingrich or Romney as the nominee, Santorum seems the only other option, with the hope being that his “upside” of attractiveness to blue collar workers and Rust Belt people in general, combined with a good VP choice attractive to coastal soccer-mom swing voters, could at least offer some hope for a winning combination that neither Gingrich nor Romney could do. National polls, which of course at this stage are almost useless for “horse race” purposes but very instructive for purposes of analyzing the general impression a candidate is making, show that Santorum comes across as the “nicest” of all the GOP candidates, and thus that his likeability quotient (to coin a phrase) offers room for political growth.
Again, it’s hardly the same upside as a Ryan or Jindal or Bob McDonnell might have offered, but it’s well within the realm of reason.
Meanwhile, Geraghty’s article does make it interesting to wonder what might have been….