WASHINGTON, DC – Former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo thinks Newt Gingrich should withdraw from the GOP presidential battle, saying his exit would give fellow conservative Rick Santorum a chance to win the party’s nomination.
“[Gingrich] should get out of the race. It would be best for the party,” said Tancredo, a former five-term U.S. Representative from Colorado and unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial candidate.
“If Newt gets out, 70 percent of his votes would go to Santorum and the rest probably would go to Ron Paul. The votes for Gingrich are much, more likely to be Santorum votes,” Tancredo said.
Tancredo is a supporter of Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania who appeals to conservative and working-class Republican primary voters. Tancredo endorsed Santorum in January and spoke on his behalf at two rallies before the state party’s Feb. 7 caucus, which Santorum won.
Santorum’s more vocal backers are publicly urging former House Speaker Gingrich to suspend his campaign and support Santorum, saying his departure would clear the way for Santorum to defeat former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Legendary conservative activist Richard Viguerie said last week that Gingrich’s flagging campaign cannot win and that he “can either be a kingmaker or a spoiler.”
Tancredo’s plea for Gingrich to help Santorum by withdrawing is not universally shared among Colorado Republican politicos. Rep. Scott Tipton said Gingrich “has got the right to stay in as a Republican.”
While Tipton has not endorsed a presidential candidate, former Rep. Bob Beauprez has thrown his support to Romney.
“I’m not interested in facilitating any other candidate’s prospects,” said Beauprez, who believes that a Gingrich withdrawal would not help Santorum’s bid significantly. “One hundred percent of Gingrich’s votes are not going to Santorum.”
Rep. Mike Coffman, a supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s candidacy, declined comment for this story.
The Santorum camp’s strategy of urging Gingrich’s withdrawal comes more than halfway through the 2012 Republican presidential race.
Thirty one states have held a caucus or primary and 25 contests remain. Romney retains a sizable lead in the race. He has compiled more delegates (481) than Santorum (252) and Gingrich (128) have combined, according to an Associated Press calculation. If Santorum were to wrest the nomination from Romney, he would need to win two in three delegates from the remaining contests.
Even Tancredo acknowledges that Santorum’s candidacy faces long odds. Asked if Santorum would have a realistic shot of winning the nomination if Gingrich drops out, Tancredo replied “I would drop the word ‘realistic’ from the sentence. He would have a shot.”
Tancredo added that Gingrich is unlikely to withdraw because a rival campaign’s supporters are exhorting him to drop out. “The only way would be if the present supporters of Gingrich did it. If he had no money, his campaign would come to a halt,” he said.