Potomac Pundits Think Newt Is Santorum’s Best Friend… Or Not

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The parallels between Washington and Hollywood are many. Both are basically company towns with one business dominating the others; entertainment in L.A., government in D.C.. Washington goes gaga when movie stars come to visit; Hollywood gets weak-kneed when the president’s around.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during a 2011 Republican Presidential debate in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during a 2011 Republican Presidential debate in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

So there may be a grain of truth in the old saying that politics is show business for ugly people. Certainly another Hollywood aphorism applies to the national capital as well. Screenwriter William Goldman said it about the movie business, but it’s equally true of politics: “Nobody knows anything.”


Witness two headlines this morning:

From the Talking Points Memo website: “How Newt Gingrich Is Killing Rick Santorum

From the ABC News website: “Do the Math: Santorum’s Best Shot May Be Gingrich’s Staying in the Race.”

Huh?

Kyle Leighton at Talking Points Memo writes, “The story all along has been about the battle between the Republican frontrunner in former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the various other candidates that have posed a challenge by galvanizing conservatives. Now Santorum and Gingrich are fighting with each other for that voting bloc, splitting a possible coalition that could overtake Romney, with the next major test in Tuesday’s Illinois primary…”

“’It varies from state to state, but I think Newt dropping out would be worth about five points to Santorum, so yes I definitely think Santorum would have won Michigan and Ohio had Gingrich dropped out by then,’ PPP Pollster Tom Jensen told TPM in an email. ‘Newt Gingrich has become Mitt Romney’s best friend. His presence in the race at this point serves no purpose but to help Romney.’”

But over at ABC News, Gregory J. Krieg writes, “Given Santorum’s significant delegate deficit, his best hope of consolidating the more conservative vote — and more importantly, the resulting delegates — is to have Gingrich stay in the game all the way to the convention floor in Tampa, Fla.”

“So while waiting on the Lord may be an option for Team Santorum, ganging up with Gingrich is likely the better play. If the former Speaker’s campaign keeps amassing delegates, Gingrich could accrue enough support that, when coupled with Santorum’s, the total meets or exceeds that of the current frontrunner.”

To paraphrase another old adage, if you laid all the political pundits end-to-end, they’d go every which way.

In the end, perhaps the truest headline is this, in Thursday’s Washington Post:

Whether Romney or Santorum Wins, The Road to the Nomination Will Be Ugly.”

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