Rick Santorum’s spectacular victories in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado last night are not only a delight to an oft-forgotten campaign operation which has been outspent by a margin of 10-1, they’re also good news for President Obama.
Santorum’s fresh momentum is another dagger at the heart of Team Romney, which must once again turn its attention and resources away from the President to strike instead at another upstart before he threatens to spoil the narrative that Mitt Romney is the one candidate best positioned to take the White House in November.
It was clear on Wednesday morning that Santorum is about to feel the full force of the Romney machine. Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on MSNBC and sought to tie Santorum to a flagging Newt Gingrich, describing the pair as “two peas in a pod” because of their Washington careers.
Democrats, on the other hand, were happy to pour a copious amount of salt on Mitt Romney’s wounds. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz took to the airwaves immediately after Santorum’s victories in Minnesota and Missouri to pile on Romney’s setback.
“Tonight was a bad night for Mitt Romney, plain and simple,” Wasserman Schultz said. “What should have been a night where he began to consolidate Republican support instead has shown that Republicans are reluctant to get behind him.”
Mitt Romney’s campaign began tamping down expectations for the three contests early Tuesday morning via a memo by Romney’s political director Rich Beeson which detailed that while they expected their “opponents to notch a few wins” over the course of the race, the campaign plans to win with its superior resources over the long haul - namely looking down the field to Super Tuesday on March 6.
Republican leaders once speculated that a long primary contest could help them, as it would toughen the contenders and excite voters, as many believe happened in the Clinton/ Obama slog of 2008. So far during this primary process however, GOP turnout has mostly fallen from the turnout in 2008, and rather than sharpening Romney, every loss blunts his message that he’s the most electable candidate come November. For Team Obama, a long and bruising Republican primary is nothing but a win-win situation. And with a new waterfall of super PAC cash soon to come, Obama’s resources will be well primed for the arduous battle ahead.
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site's coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com.