Worry over Romney sparks talk of Tampa (Politico)
There are growing calls for an alternative to Mitt Romney as the Republican standard-bearer, with the names of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie again being seen as the most likely saviors.
With concerns over Romney rising after a series of gaffes and polls showing him losing to Rick Santorum in Michigan — a state in which he was born and raised — and with a protracted primary fight ahead, some Republican activists are desperately looking for alternatives. Most concede that it’s late in the game and such a scenario is highly unlikely.
But the uncertainty and volatility of the Republican contest has led to detailed talk of either a “brokered” convention, or simply a “contested” one, in which the GOP nominee isn’t even close to being settled by the time Republicans convene in Tampa in August. The last time the GOP race was unsettled at convention time was in 1976.
Indiana GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb, one of Gov. Daniels’ closest advisers, revealed to POLITICO that “the whispers have become shouts, the knocks on [Daniels’] door have become fist pounding.”
“Republicans are fretting the four dancing now can’t beat Obama in the fall — so their national talent search continues,” Holcomb said, adding that the pleas had come from “the adults” in the party.
The Daniels adviser said the the Indiana governor’s State of the Union response speech prompted a spike in the chatter.
“Hand-written letters from around the country flooded in after his response to the State of the Union,” said Holcomb. “He can’t go anywhere without someone stopping him [and] asking to reconsider and present a clear vision, unify folks like he did in Indiana, and lead another comeback. Also, Indiana’s legislative session adjourns no later than March 14, [and] might adjourn earlier, thereby freeing him up a bit — and seasoned politicos know that as they game this out.”
Despite the fact that he is a top Romney surrogate, Christie, too, has received entreaties from senior Republicans, sources said, with the pitches rising again in recent weeks as Romney has struggled.
The New Jersey governor hasn’t budged from the position he took last year, when he said “no,” despite pleas coming from the likes of Nancy Reagan and Henry Kissinger. Christie also campaigned for Romney in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, appearing at multiple events.
And just as Christie shows no signs of changing his mind, Daniels also appears unlikely to reverse course.
“He respects those approaching him greatly, but no vote from the women’s caucus at home yet,” Holcomb quipped, alluding to the opposition against a run from the Hoosier’s wife and daughters. “[It] might take an Occupy on the Governor’s Residence lawn!”
Indeed, despite the grumbling, party operatives admit that the chances of a late entrant at this stage are akin to a walk down Imagination Lane.