Newt Gingrich suspended his campaign today and although it won’t be “official” at today’s event, reports are he will endorse Mitt Romney at some point in the near future.
Wishing for a different result never accomplishes anything toward changing the result we got, but didn’t want – so speculating on whether or not Rick Santorum would still be in the race fighting for the conservative agenda if Newt had gotten out and cleared the field for him two months ago is not a constructive exercise.
However, what is both constructive and interesting is asking why two other conservative candidates who have dropped out haven’t yet endorsed Mitt Romney.
Rick Santorum has yet to endorse Mitt Romney, neither has Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who won last year’s Ames, Iowa straw poll on a strong conservative message only to see her campaign wilt when it fell afoul of organizational and staffing difficulties.
Going back to when he first entered politics in the 1990s, Mitt Romney has been no friend to the conservative movement – this has left him with not just a hill, but with a mountain to climb to gain the support of many grassroots conservative activists and leaders.
It would make sense for Romney to make the first move – or better yet, the first six moves – to extend a hand to his rivals to try to heal some of the wounds his relentlessly negative campaign opened, and to show that he intends to govern as a conservative.
Endorsements from Santorum and Bachmann would be a good sign, but would not be enough by themselves to get conservatives on board – what is needed to calm conservative concerns about Romney is concrete action on the conservative agenda.
However, as of right now, no concrete action has come from the presumptive nominee or his campaign to prove to conservatives that Romney even wants, let alone merits, their support.
If Newt had quit two months ago, would Santorum still be in and perhaps even be besting Romney? No one will ever know.
One thing we do know is that, despite the overwhelming advantage in money and organization Romney has, and the millions of dollars in negative advertising he spent to destroy Newt Gingrich, thousands of conservative voters still turned out to support the former Speaker well after his campaign began to look hopeless.
Gingrich undoubtedly needs the good will of the Romney campaign and the establishment GOP to help pay-off his substantial campaign debt, but his endorsement alone isn’t going to bring the thousands of anti-Romney conservatives that stuck by him to the bitter end into the Romney camp. To get their support, Mitt Romney must take concrete action to show he will actually produce the conservative government that Gingrich advocated.