Rick Santorum Is Sticking It Out, Wisconsin Win or No

By
Photo: Ethan Miller/2012 Getty Images

With only two days to go until the Wisconsin primary, Republican leaders are continuing their rush to endorse Mitt Romney. Senator Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan got in line behind the candidate this week. Now, in a Sunday morning appearance on Meet the Press, freshman Wisconsin senator (and tea party favorite) Ron Johnson has followed suit:

“I  never did intend to endorse anybody, but I've had the opportunity to meet with Gov. Romney over the last couple weeks, had long phone conversations with him,” Johnson said. “I've come away from those conversations fully convinced that Gov. Romney is the person to lead our party, to lead our nation.”

However, despite mounting pressure from his own party to back out, Rick Santorum shows no signs of being ready to — in the words of Kenny Rogers via George H.W. Bush, who also endorsed Romney this week — "fold 'em." Santorum addressed the Rubio and Ryan endorsements thus: “Everybody's entitled to a mistake in their life ... [They're] pretty young. They'll recover from it.” (Bush and Johnson are both kind of old, and presumably will not.) Speaking in Wisconsin yesterday, he told reporters, "What I find out is that most endorsements are worth one vote." 

Today, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, the candidate emphasized that he was still looking forward to May's contests in the conservative South (Texas, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky), "great states, where we are ahead in every poll." And, he pointed out, “This race isn’t even at half time yet, we haven’t even selected half of the delegates yet. Gov. Romney isn’t even halfway to the magic number." (That's 1,144.) May is also when Santorum's "must-win" home state of Pennsylvania votes. 

Currently, Romney's delegate count is at 568 (compared to Santorum's 273), so a win in Wisconsin could push him well past that halfway mark. Per the Times, he's looking to the state "for closure" in this particular episode of trauma in our nation's history. Meanwhile, his Boston campaign headquarters is making preparations for raising a general election fund. However, the paper also notes, they "remain mindful that his rivals retain some chance, however small, of preventing him from gathering enough delegates for the nomination."

As Santorum is fond of putting it, that small chance would be something akin to "an act of God." Of course, he believes in those, and the conservative base that has kept him in the race does, too. Of course, some acts of God are pretty ugly. As a Romney spokeswoman told the Daily, "Sen. Santorum’s best-case scenario is for the Republican nominee to come out of a brokered convention with only 60 days to take on an incumbent president with $1 billion to spend."