Political strategist Bradley Blakeman tells Newsmax that Rick Santorum “trampled” Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment with his remarks that he would prefer to see President Barack Obama win re-election over the prospect of having Mitt Romney in the White House.
“These are destructive remarks that can only seek to damage him and his reputation after he does not become the nominee,” Blakeman declared in an exclusive interview on Friday. “It is clear he is not going to become the nominee and now he has embarked on the same scorched earth policy that [Newt] Gingrich has embarked on — that is if it’s not going to be me, it’s not going to be you either.”
During a campaign stop in Texas, Santorum insisted that a second term for Obama would be preferable to Romney winning the presidency, because the two are not all that politically different.
“You win by giving people a choice,” Santorum said, according to Fox News. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future,” he said Thursday.
On Friday, Santorum backtracked, saying he would support whoever wins the Republican primary.
"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous," Santorum said at a gun range in northern Louisiana. "I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why — Romney has sided with Obama on healthcare mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts. Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation."
Blakeman, who was a senior member in the last Bush administration, said Santorum’s remarks were not suited to a Republican primary.
“Santorum is not helping his own cause and certainly not helping the cause of defeating Obama by stating that he would vote for Obama over Romney,” he said. “Perhaps he should be running in a primary against Obama as a Democrat.”
Democratic pollster Doug Schoen disagreed and saw Santorum’s comments as reflective of a bigger issue in the Republican Party.
“Santorum is only telling the truth. Romney is a candidate who ideological conservatives can’t trust because they don’t know where he stands,” Schoen tells Newsmax.
That frustration is likely to propel Santorum to a win in Saturday’s Louisiana primary and has given him an edge in upcoming primaries in North Carolina and Texas, according to Schoen.
“President Obama is getting stronger because Republicans don’t know who Mitt Romney really is and Rick Santorum’s comment underscores how divided and weakened the Republican Party is,” he observed. “Mitt Romney may be inevitable, but it isn’t clear he’s electable.”
InsiderAdvantage head and pollster Matt Towery agreed that Romney will have to reach out to the conservative base of the party if he becomes the GOP standard bearer.
“I believe that Romney, if he is to be the nominee, must reach out to the conservative community. I mean you can’t just use an Etch A Sketch and then suddenly forget the conservative base that you’ve had a hard time getting,” Towery tells Newsmax.
He added that Santorum probably wished he had never made the comment in the first place. “I think we all say things when we get wrapped up in these campaigns particularly when they are as long, protracted and you know, I think, physically exhausting as this has become,” he explained. “All eyes are on Santorum and he is going to make some statements he probably won’t be as happy with down the road.”
But Romney should not dismiss Santorum’s remarks either, according to Towery. “Assuming he were to win the nomination, I would certainly hope that strategically Romney would be much better in reaching out to people like Gingrich, Santorum, [Rick] Perry, [Michele] Bachmann, [Herman] Cain — as well as their followers and the more conservative media — then to simply take a comment such as Santorum’s and simply be dismissive of it because clearly there’s some frustration in Santorum’s comment.”
Conservative bloggers across the Internet were incredulous at Santorum’s remarks.
“What will weaken the Republican candidate is outbursts like Santorum’s, which weaken conservatism, or the Republican Party itself,” declared John Hayward of Human Events.
“This is a ‘tell’ about Santorum that is very difficult to ignore. Even Gingrich, he of loose lips on occasion, stated that any Republican is better than Obama, and he has not been terribly kind to Romney during the debates or the campaign,” penned Al Campbell of GermantownNow.
“Those of us who want Barack Obama to go should now also want Mr. Santorum to go,” snapped Bernard Goldberg.
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