Slouching Toward A Spin Consensus: Santorum Lost

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 22 2012 11:14 PM

Slouching Toward A Spin Consensus: Santorum Lost

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Take spin rooms for what they are: Mostly nonsense. But pay attention to the theatrics. When Rick Perry "oops"ed his way out of contention in Michigan, he made a surprise visit to the spin room to explain himself. ("I screwed up," he explained.) After tonight's debate, Rick Santorum hot-footed it to meet reporters, slogging slowly through the mob as he went over to a previously scheduled interview. Oftentimes, Santorum will response to an annoying question by muttering and shaking his head. This time, when asked why Ron Paul seemed to be on Mitt Romney's side, Santorum snarked: "You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they have going on together."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

There was immediate agreement: Santorum was protesting too much. But he was right! After the debate ended, the Paul campaign shot out a donor letter attacking one candidate. "So can Ron Paul count on you to make a generous contribution to help get the truth about Rick Santorum out to the voters and to make sure we have the resources to run a full-scale GOTV program on Super Tuesday?" asked John Tate, Paul's campaign manager?


The Paul-Romney non-alignment pact continued. The Gingrich campaign, emboldened, was talking about the long war. Did it matter that Texas's primary was delayed? No, the campaign would end there anyway. Did it matter how Michigan ended up? Only insofar as whether it would prove, sooner than expected, that Romney had no path to the nomination.

"It's not about states," said R.C. Hammond, Gingrich's spokeman. "It's about delegates."

Rep. Trent Franks, Gingrich's highest-profile Arizona endorser, was a little more realistic. "Newt has a Southern strategy, and time will tell if it's effective."

No such pessimism from the Romney campaign.

"We're going to win Michigan," said Romney adviser Stuart Stevens.

"He's going to win Arizona," said Romney endorser Rep. Jeff Flake.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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