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Todd Domke

Strategizing with the what-if candidate

Newt Gingrich Associated Press Newt Gingrich

Press (Associated
By Todd Domke
September 9, 2011

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Last in a series of scenarios on how GOP presidential candidates could win the nomination

IT’S TWO weeks from now. After a debate in Orlando, four candidates secretly meet in a motel room.

Newt Gingrich says, “You’re all wondering why I asked you here.’’

“Yeah, I hate late-night meetings,’’ Ron Paul complains. ”I need my beauty sleep.’’

Herman Cain and Rick Santorum chuckle.

Gingrich says, “It’s time to get real. We are all likely losers. But what if we band together and run as a team - as a reform ticket? One runs for president, one for VP, and two as designated members of the cabinet. It would be bold and pioneering, like the ‘Contract with America’ in ’94.’’

The others look skeptical.

Santorum says, “If you added our poll numbers, we’d be a front-runner. But we all want to be president. Who would settle for less?’’

“We’d need to be realistic about who’s best for each office,’’ says Gingrich.

“Sorry,’’ says Ron Paul. “My supporters are very idealistic. They hate backroom deals.’’

“Me too,’’ says Herman Cain. “But as a businessman, I want results. Why lose everything if you can win something?’’

Santorum says, “We have the same goal: beat Barack Obama and save the republic.’’

“Right,’’ says Gingrich. “Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. We’d run as a leadership team, ready to hit the ground running.’’

“Let’s be honest,’’ says Paul. “You guys won’t pick me for president. Why should I buy into this?’’

Gingrich smiles. “Ron, imagine if you’re appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve.’’ They all laugh. “Seriously, what if you ran a federal agency that you could down-size or eliminate? You can accomplish something libertarians only dream of.’’

Santorum says, “And you’d pave the way for your son. Rand can be president someday.’’

Paul grins.

“Let’s talk qualifications,’’ Cain says. “I’ve got the most executive experience. Will you back me for president?’’

Three heads tilt down.

Santorum says, “You’ve never won office, Herman. But you’d be a great Commerce Secretary. I should be our candidate for president. I’ve won tough races in Pennsylvania, a swing state. You guys represent Texas and Georgia - any Republican will win those.’’

Gingrich says, “Rick, you lost your Senate seat overwhelmingly. You should be VP. But here’s the kicker: I’d pledge to serve just one term as President. You could succeed me.’’

“Newt, your negatives are too high,’’ says Cain. “We need a winner.’’

“In ’94, I led a team to win the House,’’ says Gingrich. “As a team, we can win this too.’’

Hours later. . . “OK, it’s settled,’’ says Gingrich cheerfully. “I’m our presidential choice, Rick for Veep, Herman for Commerce, Ron for Labor.’’

“I’m hungry,’’ says Cain. “Let’s call Godfather’s and order a Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza.’’

Gingrich volunteers to go pick it up. “See, I serve the team with humility.’’

Thirty minutes later, Gingrich returns with the pizza. He notices dour expressions. “What’s wrong?’’

“After you left, we changed our minds,’’ says Paul.

“Sorry, Newt,’’ says Cain. “We impeached you.’’

“I’m our presidential candidate now,’’ says Santorum. “Ron is my running mate. Herman switched to Energy. Would you like Defense?’’

“Outrageous!’’ says Gingrich. “I go get pizza and you impeach me?!’’

“Arguing ruins my appetite,’’ says Paul. “Let’s eat first.’’

Exasperated, Gingrich grabs a slice, and glares at Santorum.

They eat in silence.

When they finish, Santorum says, “What if we named others for cabinet positions too? No conservative candidate excites the whole base, but a dream team could.’’

“Chris Christie, secretary of health and human services!’’ says Cain.

“Mitch Daniels, secretary of education,’’ says Gingrich.

“Paul Ryan, Treasury,’’ says Paul.

Santorum nods. “A league of super heroes.’’

“A true reform ticket,’’ says Gingrich. “An administration in waiting.’’

“Let’s celebrate!” Santorum says. “Who will go out and bring us champagne?’’

Santorum smiles anxiously when they all point at him.

Todd Domke is a Boston-area Republican political analyst, public relations strategist, and author.