It is getting ugly out there in Republican land as Rick Santorum claimed on CNN that Mitt Romney has become so desperate that he rigged the CPAC straw poll by buying votes.
Here is the video from CNN:
CROWLEY: You know, you had a great first of the week with that sweep of three states and not such a great Saturday. I found it surprising that, in CPAC, this collection of basically your base that has fueled your campaign, a collection of conservative groups, had a straw poll and they voted for Mitt Romney, 38 percent to 31 percent. What happened?
SANTORUM: Well, you know, those straw polls at CPAC, as you know, for years, Ron Paul’s won those because he just trucks in a lot of people, pays for their ticket, and they come in and vote and then they leave. And I’m not — you know, we didn’t do that. We don’t do that. I don’t — I don’t try to rig straw polls.
CROWLEY: Do you think…
SANTORUM: I know that there was some…
CROWLEY: Do you think Governor Romney rigged it?
SANTORUM: … unhappiness at the announcement. Well, you have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets they bought. We’ve heard all sorts of things. But, you know what, those straw polls — in my mind, you know, they were important last year when we weren’t voting, but states are voting right now.
CROWLEY: OK. Before I leave the straw poll, we should first note that Mitt Romney also won the Maine caucuses, where I know you didn’t compete heavily or at all. But you mentioned twice…
SANTORUM: Right, right.
CROWLEY: … that you didn’t pay for votes in these caucuses. So I have to go back to, do you have any — someone clearly is telling you that they think Mitt Romney’s team at least paid for folks to go and vote for him at the straw poll. Is that — and that’s what you’re saying?
SANTORUM: That’s — that’s — that’s standard procedure at all of these straw polls, that campaigns who want to win go out and recruit people and provide, you know, free tickets for them to come and vote. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, that’s absolutely a strategy. We just don’t think that’s a good use of our resources. And — but Governor Romney, obviously, you know, may have a different idea.
Gee, Rick Santorum seems fairly certain that the poll was rigged. He was also correct that the Ron Paul people showed all Republicans exactly how to win these straw polls years ago. These straw polls aren’t a measure of how hardcore Republicans feel about their candidates. All they measure is the amount of money that a campaign is willing to spend to win a meaningless poll. The Paul people were willing in the past to spend money to win these polls because they thought of it as a demonstration of strength that would help get them attention and give them legitimacy. Since Rep. Paul has moved up in the polls, they no longer felt the need to flood CPAC with their supporters.
When is the last time that the supposed frontrunner for a major party nomination had to rig a straw poll to give themselves legitimacy in the middle of the nomination process? I am going to guess the answer to that question would be never.
During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Santorum called Romney desperate, “For him to suggest that I’m not the conservative in this race — you know, there’s — you reach a point where desperate people do desperate things.”
Mitt Romney’s level of desperation is so high that his campaign engaged in various dirty tricks in Maine in order to win a meaningless caucus. When Ron Paul was still running close, Romney’s campaign had the race called for him despite the fact that there were less than 200 votes separating the candidates and only 95% of the vote was in.
Ron Paul was happy to get the delegates so he didn’t call out Romney’s dirty tricks, but Santorum had no qualms about blowing the lid off of what the Romney campaign is doing.
Mitt Romney is trying to buy the Republican nomination. Even though Republican voters dislike him more by the day, but Mitt Romney continues to spend millions of dollars in his quest to get to the magic number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
Mitt Romney needed two victories, so he bought one at CPAC and had the Republican Party give him another in Maine. Never has a frontrunner been so weak and reviled by such a large segment of his party that he has to buy his way to the nomination.
The only thing more laughable than Mitt Romney’s desperate lust for the Republican nomination is the fact that establishment Republicans still believe that this shell of candidate can beat President Obama.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association