Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jeb Bush Endorsement of Mitt Romney Sends the Message to Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich

But Is It Really a Message if They Don’t Hear It?

After the Michigan primary this Forum announced that in order for Rick Santorum to seriously challenge Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination three things had to occur.  The first was that Newt Gingrich had to leave the race.  That has not happened.  The second was that Mr. Santorum had to win almost all of the remaining primaries.  That has not happened.  The third was that the Republican establishment had to acknowledge at least the possibility that the nomination could be taken away from Mr. Romney and given to Mr. Santorum.  That ain’t happening either.

Today the foremost symbol of the Republican establishment, former Florida Governor and son of one President, brother of another Jeb Bush endorsed Mr. Romney.  Chris Cillizza, the most eminent of all the political commentators recognizes how important this is.

In our endorsement hierarchy, Jeb for Mitt qualifies as a symbolic endorsement — one of the very few endorsements that can actually matter.

A symbolic endorsement is, put simply, support that goes beyond simply saying “I am behind this guy”. It sends a broader signal to either a party or the country.

And here is what it means,

Bush all but says those words in his statement endorsing Romney — congratulating all the candidates “for a hard fought, thoughtful debate and primary season” before adding: “Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall.”

The vision that popped to mind for us in reading those words was of Bush as the referee in a prizefight. After watching former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum absorb a series of haymakers from Romney, Bush is doing his best to step in and declare a technical knockout before things get any bloodier.

Yes, we could not have said it better ourselves, so that is the reason for reprinting Mr. Cillizza.  As to why Mr. Bush spoke at this time, Mr. Cillizza has inside news, which is not all that positive for Mr. Romney

The one complicating factor in puzzling out the importance of the Jeb endorsement is the back story of why he decided to do it. Bush and those closest to him are mum on it but one senior party operative told the Fix earlier today that “he’s lost any hope that we’ll have anyone better.”

This is not just a slam at Mr. Romney, but at the entire Republican party.

Mr. Santorum now finds himself in a decision making situation.  He will not be the nominee, which everyone except Mr. Santorum has known for months.  He will not be the Vice Presidential nominee, which everyone including Mr. Santorum has known for months.  The only remaining question is this.  Will Mr. Santorum get his ticket validated to run again in 2016 (if Mr. Romney loses) or in 2020 (if Mr. Romney wins).

The favorites for the nomination in 2016 or 2020 will be Mr. Romney’s Vice Presidential pick and a young, energetic Conservative.  This means that Florida Senator Marco Rubio will be in first place even if he is not chosen for the VP slot with Virginia’s Governor Robert McDonnell not far behind.  In the race will also be Mr. Bush (Jeb that is, George W. cannot run, thank you Constitution) and maybe Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie.  But Mr. Rubio and the rest will all have some type of baggage, so there is room for Mr. Santorum  . . .IF

The “IF” is whether or not Mr. Santorum ceases his attacks on Mr. Romney, and finds a way to gracefully exit the campaign.  Your call Rick, personally we hope you do stay in all the way to Tampa.  Then we can all say “Goodnight Ricky” and the hear the standard replay, “Goodnight Lucy”. 


  1. Yes, Republicans will not support a candidate who takes his fight all the way to the convention, as we learned in 1976/ 1980. What are you smoking?

  2. Dear DPE,

    With regard to Mr. Santorum: "Senator, you're no Ronald Reagan."

    If Mr. Santorum or his supporters have the foolish belief that the Republicans are going to coalesce about his candidacy in 2016, 2020 or any other year, well, as they say, "Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn in no other."

    Yrs, Elsie