Newt Gingrich’s plan to keep Mitt Romney from winning the necessary delegates for the GOP nomination means the presidential contenders might have to form a deal in order to avoid a brokered convention, a leading Gingrich surrogate told The Hill.
Former Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) said an agreement between the candidates would be preferable to taking the fight to the convention floor in Tampa, Fla., this August.
“If the four candidates that are involved decide to somehow put delegates together to make somebody the nominee based on the delegates they’ve earned I don’t think I’d call that a backroom deal,” he said. “A brokered convention [could] go against the wishes of all the voters and maybe pick someone who wasn’t even running. No one I know wants a brokered convention.”
Gingrich has publicly stated that his goal is to keep Romney from winning the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination.
His spokesman, R.C. Hammond, told reporters Tuesday night that “our goal first is to keep Romney well below 1,000,” according to reports. He added that if that happens: “This will be the first time in our party in modern politics that we’re going to go to the convention floor.”
Gingrich’s goal points to a series of worries among Republicans about their primary process: that Romney hasn’t been able to close the deal, that the proportional system of awarding delegates is dragging out the race to the possible benefit of President Obama, and that the possibility of brokered convention is growing.
Romney leads the delegate count with 495 delegates, followed by Rick Santorum with 252, according to The Associated Press. Gingrich is in third with 131 and Ron Paul trails with 48.
The odds of Santorum or Gingrich earning enough delegates to win the nomination outright are slim to none, an argument the Romney camp has made repeatedly.