lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

El plan de Santorum para hacer descarrilar a Romney



POLITICO.com:
Nearly a week after upsetting Romney in the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and the Missouri primary, both Santorum and his aides say they remain focused on a state-by-state, delegate-by-delegate grind toward the GOP nomination. With Santorum looking increasingly like the last down-the-line conservative standing in the 2012 field, his team sees plentiful opportunities to harvest delegates over the next month in states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas – inexpensive political arenas that lean strongly to the right.

But in candid conversations with POLITICO, a half-dozen Santorum strategists and allies indicated that the former Pennsylvania senator is also weighing whether to seek a more dramatic shift in a primary season that has seen plenty of them.

A potential path to breaking open the race against Romney, they say, could run through Michigan’s Feb. 28 election and Ohio’s Super Tuesday vote on March 6 – two Rust Belt primaries where they believe Santorum’s working-class background and manufacturing-heavy message will resonate. (Arizona’s winner-take-all primary, also on Feb. 28, looks less inviting.)

The privately held hope in the Santorum camp is that beating Romney in his native state of Michigan or in the ultimate general election battleground of Ohio would discredit the on-and-off Republican front-runner on a grand scale, and make the other candidates in the race irrelevant in the remaining contests.

“If we can get it to a two-person race, I feel very confident that we will be the nominee,” said Santorum strategist John Brabender, who explained the campaign is assessing where to play based on the number of delegates at stake and the cost of competing in each state.

(...) And even as they work to lay the foundation for a longer struggle against Romney, Santorum’s team has already taken tentative steps toward a more aggressive posture in Michigan and Ohio.

They’ve brought on state directors in both states, plus Tennessee. A media-buying source said Santorum has inquired about cable television rates in Ohio and aides to the former senator said they are preparing to run ads there and in Michigan.

Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo said he expects to spend much of his time in the coming weeks based out of Columbus, Ohio, while also maintaining a presence in Michigan. The candidate is due to speak at the Detroit Economic Club and address the Oakland County, Mich., GOP on Thursday.

Asked if Santorum was girding for a long war against Romney or planned to seek a decisive turn of momentum, Biundo answered: “A combination of both.”

(...) While the financial condition of both Santorum’s campaign and his super PAC have improved, advisers emphasize that it’s still a lean, low-budget campaign that has to be exceedingly choosy about where it plows in six-figure sums – let alone the scale of resources Romney has routinely committed to key primaries.

“It’s all about being disciplined and not wasting resources,” said Nick Ryan, who steers the pro-Santorum super PAC, the Red White & Blue Fund. “I also think it’s important he maintains the right tone – be the conservative happy warrior. Romney will be blistering and negative.”