The Last Word | March 07, 2012
>>> to be perfectly honest with you, and candid, not being political, i will answer your question and he let you know i voted for the cheerful one for newt gingrich .
>> sarah palin and a majority of voters in most states that voted on super tuesday voted against mitt romney . because rick santorum and newt gingrich continue to split the conservative vote, romney continues to sneak into first place in states like ohio . the romney path to the nomination has always depended on the proposition that at least two republicans would be splitting the conservative vote. with santorum running well ahead of gingrich in national polls. republican strategist steve schmidt explained the reality of the gingrich candidacy this way.
>> there's no question going-forward that a vote for newt gingrich is a vote for mitt romney in this process.
>> the pro- rick santorum super pac, the red, white and blue fund released a statement today saying with gingrich exiting the race it would be a true head -to- head race and conservatives would be able to make a choice between a consistent conservative and rick santorum or mitt romney . newt has become a hindrance to a conservative alternative. newt gingrich responded this way on bill bennett 's radio show .
>> if i think he was a slam dunk to beat romney and obama, i would consider getting out. i don't.
>> joining me now is rick tyler , senior adviser for the pro- gingrich super pac. er eric , santorum is beating gingrich consistently in these things. you have a wipeout of mitt romney in all these campaigns. what does rick santorum have to do to convince -- not newt gingrich but other republicans to rise up and say, come on, let's narrow this race?
>> i'm not a political strategist, i have to say that if he continues to say what he believes in, i have a funny feeling that the obama administration is probably more afraid of san forum at this point than they're willing to admit. he has an ability to connect with rust-belt middle americans , working class americans . i think that's why i would ultimately support him. i feel that he makes a connection with average americans that in a way romney isn't yet making, and i don't see him making that in the way that santorum is making. so it's hard for me to think he's not electable. i think he's the most electable of the three.
>> the national polls don't show that mitt romney has any particular advantage over rick santorum running against president obama . and your guy is just falling behind further and further behind. why? why rick? why prolong this? you were heard, you heard steve schmidt say that a vote for gingrich is a vote for romney . how can you let that happen?
>> well, steve schmidt managed the john mccain campaign, i'll manage that. we put a lot of effort into georgia, because we felt like we had to win georgia. it was okay, we had a decisive win. i'm out here in mississippi and alabama , that's the next step. let me put the calculations, they change somewhat. the calculation is that -- put out by the romney campaign who has no ability to beat barack obama , david axelrod did it today laying out why he couldn't beat barack obama , mitt romney has used up his last half life and he's wiped out his support for the middle class . and independent voters. he's destroyed his ability to beat barack obama . more people showed up for barack obama than showed up for the republicans, that's because of the negative campaigning that's been going on. let me put this calculation on the table. the hurdle for newt gingrich or rick santorum to catch up with mitt romney is only equalled by the hurdle of mitt romney to arrive at the convention with the proper number of delegates. it is not in rick santorum 's interest to drop out of this race. it's in his interest for newt to stay in the race and collect as many delegates as rick should do to keep mitt romney from getting the requisite number of delegates to arrive in tampa. in doing that, after the first ballot which mitt romney will fail to win, then rick santorum would have a genuine chance at winning an open floor fight. he doesn't have a chance otherwise, he has no ability to beat mitt romney and his organization and his money.
>> rick -- i just have to follow up with that. of course he has the ability to be -- you look at michigan, ohio , romney bombed santorum with money in ohio , and if newt gingrich wasn't in the race, santorum would have beaten him decisively.
>> well, explain that -- in the united states , but explain that theory to me in california, in new jersey, in new york. that theory doesn't hold up, those are big states. and mitt romney will decisively beat rick santorum in states, he's going to outspend him. he outspends him in ohio by 4 to 1. if you can keep mitt romney by outspending you 3 to 1, you're going to win.
>> eric , rick is trying to play it forward. he won't grant us the actual facts of the votes we've counted. and he wants to talk about the votes that are months away. eric , what rick is essentially saying is okay, hey, everybody, let's just keep playing, seems pretty clear to us, that even romney isn't going to get the delegates he needs in the election process to go into the convention with the nomination. so we will all show up in florida with our delegates and then we can talk. and if rick santorum 's way ahead of newt gingrich , maybe there's some kind of deal to be made. let's just wait until florida . what's wrong with that?
>> i think they really believe that. it's hard for me to tell them not to do that. i don't believe that. i think that -- listen, a lot of the votes for romney are pragmatic votes. a lot of people don't love romney , but they would vote for him. i'm certainly one of them. however, people love santorum . when i talk to people who like santorum , they don't just like him, they love him, they're passionate about him, they see his passion. there's a lot of that for gingrich as well. if i thought he could win, that's one thing. i guess the question is, when will he see that? the point is, it doesn't matter what we with think, gingrich has to believe he can win. for some reason he still believes. i mean, he's come back from the dead twice. i think he still believes he can do it. santor sum going to go a lot further, the question is when will gingrich see what everybody else is seeing? and i don't know that he ever does that.
>> rick tyler , you seem to be saying that it isn't about winning, that gingrich has given up the idea that he can actually win the nomination through the election process, and you're just in the business of getting delegates out of this proportional outcome that you can get in various states, and just seeing how many you end up with when you go to florida ?
>> no, the key to winning is getting the most delegates to vote for you at the convention. newt gingrich is behind 60 delegates behind rick santorum . he could wipe out that difference in mississippi and alabama alone. there's 150 delegates --
>> what if he doesn't? let's just go to mississippi where you are right now, and it's gingrich 's neighborhood. if rick santorum goes in to those southern states and beats newt gingrich , is there any message newt gingrich can get from that to say, you know what, i really am in the way, i should get out of the way so 24 can be the conservative against the moderate flip-flopper romney ?
>> well, that would be up to speaker gingrich . as you know, i would support speaker gingrich . if he wants to go to the convention, i will support whatever he wants to do. i believe we will win alabama and mississippi , and we'll have a new ball game. if he he believed that romney or rick santorum coulda and change washington, which neither their records reflect they would be able to do that, they would both accommodate washington, he would step aside . he doesn't see that in either of those candidates, why not give people in mississippi a chance to vote for another conservative ?
>> well, according to that formulation then, he'll never stop aside, because every poll shows president obama beating every one of these guys. rick, come on, you can't keep things going like this.
>> things change .
>> i want to see the real debate between the conservative and flip-flopper.
>> you want to see a newt debate --
>> we'll have to have you guys back after the votes next week. eric and rick thank you very much for joining me tonight.
>> thanks, lawrence.