Don't Hold Your Breath for a Romney-Santorum Ticket

Would Santorum accept the vice-presidential nod? Just as important, would Romney be willing to offer it in the first place?

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In the aftermath of former Gov. Mitt Romney's embarrassing third-place finishes to former Sen. Rick Santorum in Alabama and Mississippi, talk of Romney possibly failing to cross the 1,144-delegate threshold has gotten considerably louder.

Romney semi-enthusiast David Frum imagines that Romney could easily clear the decks at the Tampa convention by making an offer Santorum couldn't refuse: "If Santorum does somehow win enough delegates to block Romney, the ensuing 'conversation' goes like this: 'How about VP, Rick?' 'Okay, Mitt.'"

Hmmm.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

Would Santorum accept the vice presidential nod? Just as important, would Romney be willing to offer it in the first place?

For starters, how does Santorum run alongside the weaselly progenitor of Obamacare, scourge of human liberty? How does Santorum walk back from his pronouncement that Romney is "disqualified"?

A Washington Post report from an Americans for Prosperity forum in Michigan captured the following:

"Disqualified, disqualified, disqualified," Santorum thundered as he ticked off parts of Romney's record, including health care, that he claimed would make it impossible for Romney to draw a clear contrast with President Obama in the general election.

"Why would we do that? ... Why would we nominate someone who is uniquely unqualified to take on the big issues of the day in this election about government control of your life?"

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum.]

I realize that Vice President Joe Biden said that then-Sen. Barack Obama lacked experience (and that he said this during both the primary and, amazingly, the general-election campaign). But it seems to me that there's a substantial difference between Biden characterizing Obama as brilliant but green, and Santorum bluntly proclaiming Romney "disqualified" due to  ideological heresy. The former arguably comes from a place of fundamental sympathy, while the latter is hostile and unappeasable.

Biden's knock on Obama was that he needed a few more years of service under his belt. In contrast, Santorum's opposition to Romney is holistic. He simply doesn't trust Romney and doesn't believe he's truly conservative.

All things being equal, it's unlikely such corrosive doubt has endeared Santorum to Romney's heart. Who among us likes being called, in so many words, a liar?

If I had to bet, I'd say Romney will eventually cross the 1,144-delegate threshold before the party meets in Tampa (perhaps as late as June, as conservative radio talk-show host Steve Deace projects, but certainly before the convention). But if he doesn't, I'm still betting against a Romney-Santorum ticket.