By Carole on Mar 22, 2012
In a new interview, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says he expects to finish in third place in the GOP delegate count and that there's a chance someone other than the four declared candidates could emerge from the party's August convention as the nominee. Neither of those statements is really news; various pundits have been saying the same for weeks. But what is newsworthy is that Mr. Gingrich has said them.
While Mr. Gingrich is not completely abandoning his own aspirations to secure the nomination, he seems to be switching his main focus from running against President Barack Obama in the general election to preventing presumptive nominee Mitt Romney from doing so.
Saying that Mr. Romney may not be able to "grind his way" to the nomination despite a massive advantage in fundraising, Speaker Gingrich discussed the possibility of a brokered convention. "I'm not so sure you wouldn't get a series of brand new players," he said.
Yesterday, the Republican establishment sent what could be construed as a warning to both candidates and primary voters who may make decisions based on that possibility. Citing Republican National Committee rule No. 40 which stipulates that candidates seeking the nomination must have won a plurality of votes in at least five states, RNC Chairman Reince Preibus said, "It's an important rule," he said. "So when these candidates are adding up their delegates or when people out there have a particular issue that they would like to move at the convention, they had better make sure they at least have a plurality of five states to make these things happen."
But all that really means is no candidate who has not won a plurality of votes in at least five states can be nominated on the convention's first ballot. If Mr. Romney (or any other declared candidate) fails to win the nomination on that first ballot (i.e. does not arrive at the convention with the necessary 1,144 delegates), anyone becomes eligible for the nomination - including someone who has neither won nor even campaigned during the primary/caucus process.
Despite the drumbeat of establishment endorsements for Governor Romney, the repeated media refrain that a Romney nomination is inevitable and the procedural warnings that no one else need apply; the facts keep getting in the way of that collective script.
While Mr. Gingrich may have little to no chance of winning the nomination himself, his apparent pivot from anti-Romney candidate to becoming the party's anti-Romney champion may bring him much more success.
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