Conservative journal to Newt Gingrich: 'Endorse Santorum and exit'

The Globe and Mail

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stands during a rally in Jacksonville, Florida Jan. 27, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

What a difference a month makes in the Republican leadership race.

Heading into the South Carolina primary, buoyed by surging poll numbers, candidate Newt Gingrich called on Rick Santorum to do the right thing and drop out of the race.

After his dramatic win in South Carolina, Mr. Gingrich called on Mr. Santorum once again to drop out of the race so that conservatives could rally behind one candidate against front-runner Mitt Romney.

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Fast forward to mid-February and Mr. Santorum has strung together a Midwest hat-trick with key wins in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. Now it is Mr. Gingrich who is hearing calls that he quit the race.

The conservative National Review Online today published an editorial with the following advice:

“When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.”

On Mitt Romney’s candidacy, the National Review editorial, is equally sharp: “So far Romney has been running mostly on his biography: Republicans are supposed to vote for him because he is a family man and shrewd businessman. And Republicans, even the many who are well disposed to him, have been saying as loud as they can: It isn’t enough.”

Mr. Romney made a strident effort last week to win over skeptical conservatives at a gathering in Washington, D.C. for conservative activists. In his address to the gathering, he tried to reassure the audience that indeed he was a true conservative, using the word 24 times in a 26-minute speech. In fact, he told the audience, he was “severely conservative.”

The phrase had observers chuckling.

Journalist Molly Ball of The Atlantic pointed out that Mr. Romney “described conservatism as if it were a disease.”