My AJC colleague Jeffry Scott notes that, while a Mitt Romney-allied super PAC is battling Rick Santorum everywhere else, it has put nearly $1 million in Georgia behind this TV ad attacking a wounded Newt Gingrich:
The ad from Restore Our Future has its origins in a National Review Online piece published late last month by Elliott Abrams, an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan Administration – and a Mitt Romney supporter. The topic was Reagan’s efforts to curb Soviet expansionism in places such as Afghanistan:
But the most bitter battleground was often in Congress. Here at home, we faced vicious criticism from leading Democrats — Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Jim Wright, Tip O’Neill, and many more — who used every trick in the book to stop Reagan by denying authorities and funds to these efforts. On whom did we rely up on Capitol Hill? There were many stalwarts: Henry Hyde, elected in 1974; Dick Cheney, elected in 1978, the same year as Gingrich; Dan Burton and Connie Mack, elected in 1982; and Tom DeLay, elected in 1984, were among the leaders.
But not Newt Gingrich. He voted with the caucus, but his words should be remembered, for at the height of the bitter struggle with the Democratic leadership Gingrich chose to attack . . . Reagan.
Restore Our Future spokeswoman Brittany Gross declined to say Tuesday why the group continues to target Gingrich in Georgia. “We don’t talk about strategy,” she said. Though Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker, once held a sizable lead in Georgia, that appears to have eroded as Santorum has gained ground and taken the lead in some national polls.
Here’s what’s likely happening: Given how close this GOP race for president has become, Super Tuesday will be a tough scrap over individual delegates. Georgia allots its 86 delegates proportionally, in part by congressional district, but only to the first- and second-place finishers. The real Romney effort in Georgia is to avoid a third-place finish – and wind up with no delegates. Or nearly none.
If Santorum is in fact moving into first place in Georgia – a la Mike Huckabee in 2008, then Romney can best help himself by making sure Gingrich drops down two spots, not one.
The downside of such a strategy is that a third-place finish in his “home” state could hasten Gingrich’s exit. And Romney may want the former U.S. House speaker to hang around a bit longer.
For those of you who want to get into the weeds, here are the rules governing the distribution of the state’s 76 delegates on March 6, from GOP counsel Anne Lewis:
GOP counsel Anne Lewis offered this breakdown of how Georgia Republican delegates to Tampa will be divided:
– 42 come from congressional districts (3 x 14) and are pledged as follows: If a candidate gets more than 50% of the district vote, that person gets all 3 delegates. If no one does, then the top vote getter in the district vote gets 2 and the second place finisher gets 1
– 31 come from the state at large and are pledged as follows: A candidate has to get more than 20% to get any delegates; among those, the candidates get the percentage of delegates equal to the candidate’s percentage of the statewide vote. Any delegates left over after that are distributed sequentially to those qualified to get any delegates.
– 3 are the RNC man and woman and chairman of the State Party, who are all pledged to the top vote-getter statewide.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider