Monday, January 23, 2012

Plum Line: Looking to Florida

Over at Plum Line, I talk about the factors to look for in Florida. I'll just underline one, perhaps less obvious one, over here...I'm not making any predictions, but it among the possibilities that wouldn't really surprise me would be Santorum winding up benefiting from a Newt/Mitt slugfest. We've seen this happen before -- two heavyweights run a vicious negative campaign against each other, and a third candidate goes positive and winds up defeating both of them. If I was advising the Santorum campaign, that's what I'd urge him to do in the debates tonight and Thursday -- and indeed, he seems to be moving in that direction.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Santorum's candidacy even makes it to next Tuesday. As I ask over there, it's not clear whether anti-Newt party actors would prefer that Santorum drop and endorse Romney (which would presumably tend to help Mitt among social conservatives who haven't trusted him) or, on the other hand, stay in to give the party an emergency candidate to turn to if Romney melts down entirely in Florida. Nor do we know how open Santorum might be to listening to them; in particular, it's not clear he'd want to line up behind Romney if he did drop out. At any rate, that's one of the big things I'm looking for in the debate tonight.

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