- Published on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 23:15
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Editor’s Note: This “fantasy convention” article may prove to be reality. Keep reading!
Just a month and a half ago it looked like Mitt Romney was the presumed Republican nominee for President. He had won the Iowa caucuses, or at the time we had thought he had, and later went on to win New Hampshire. And then, oops, sorry, not so fast, Newt Gingrich won South Carolina. All at once Romney wasn’t the presumed nominee.
But, oh wait, then Romney won Florida, and once again, the aura of likely nominee returned. Nevada kept that image
shining. Then along came Rick Santorum’s win in the Colorado caucuses and in the Missouri primary. Once again, the luster of presumed nominee faded and Romney is again fighting to get it back.
Are you beginning to sense a pattern here?
It’s a see-saw contest, and if it keeps up this way, the Republicans could meet in Tampa in August with no candidate having enough votes to secure the nomination on the first ballot. It could, though several pieces have to fall into place first, lead to an open convention. For many journalists and political watchers this is the ultimate fantasy. However, there needs to be a quick reality check. Open conventions almost never happen, but, then again, this, isn’t an ordinary year.
Republicans aren’t happy with their choices, Romney, though leading, isn’t rallying the party, and many in the GOP base would like another alternative. The possibility of a GOP revolt at the convention, perhaps starting well before the convention, may not be as far fetched as many assume. The best thing to call such speculation, at least at the moment, is “the fantasy convention.” That’s a little like fantasy football, or fantasy baseball, only in this case, it’s fantasy politics.
So, alright then, it’s summer, the last primary has been fought, and no one has enough votes to get a lock on the nomination.
Santorum, Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Romney are still the only choices, and many in the GOP, from members of Congress, to a host of Governors, and according to polls, most of the Republican base, are asking if they can’t do better. As the convention approaches, delegates are openly talking about what it would take to draft someone new. (Some people even at the moment are beginning to talk about bringing in a new candidate right away.)
The press began picking up on this in early July and as the convention date approaches Romney organized the most sophisticated command and control system for the floor in Convention history. He is also, actively trying to secure an alliance with Santorum, the second runner up in delegate totals. Santorum hasn’t taken the bait. Romney has even talked to Gingrich. Some are saying the former Massachusetts Governor is getting desperate. But many in the delegate ranks have already dismissed him and that includes some who are committed to vote for him.
But the question remains, who will they nominate?
That’s the talk of the summer, and it’s steadily becoming clear that this won’t be just any convention. A week before the convention, lawyers, most working for the Romney campaign, begin calling delegates to remind them that they were selected with the obligation to vote for a specific candidate. Some listen, some don’t. The convention, still a few days away, is taking on a mind of its own. Media from all over the world, with the convention set to open in 24 hours, descend on Tampa. There isn’t a hotel room for 300 miles.
As delegates start checking in, names are starting to rise to the top. Previously dismissed candidates, ones originally considered too cerebral, or too this, or too that, get a second wind. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty starts working the phone and visiting delegates. He finds, alas, that he still isn’t catching on. The same is true for Jon Huntsman. Jeb Bush, the charismatic former Governor of Florida, is encouraged by several friends to start working the phones and he does. South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham is getting calls, “You better come to Tampa.” He was expected the next day, but a new band of supporters want him there right away. Ohio’s Rob Portman, is working the Midwestern states. And the up until now reluctant candidate, Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels, is visiting the hospitality suites.
The convention’s hotels are swirling. Liquor and coffee are flowing in nearly equal amounts. Some delegates haven’t slept for 24 hours. Suddenly none of the leading candidates are leading anymore. The number of prospects keeps growing, and many of them, if they were nominated, could be formidable in the fall. Various hastily conducted overnight tracking polls are proving this point. This notion only makes the convention even more excited. But, as the convention opens the next day, no one knows what will happen next. It takes 50 minutes to gavel the convention to order, and even then, as the chairman tries to dispense with routine business, the floor is prone to spontaneous demonstrations. However, back in the Oval Office and at the President’s reelection headquarters in Chicago, the mood is somber. The President and his advisors are getting nervous, they thought they had this figured out, but it looks like anything could happen.