Guy Benson
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As I reported this morning, Newt Gingrich is pleading with Florida voters not to "waste" their votes on Rick Santorum, asserting that he alone is the only conservative alternative to Mitt Romney with a chance to win.  Given the state's polling picture, that's not an entirely unreasonable argument to advance, but Newt has taken his rhetoric a step further by calling on Santorum and Ron Paul to drop out of the race and unite behind him.  Newt floated the same suggestion in South Carolina, which went over about as well as his latest attempt to clear the field:
 

Rick Santorum on Tuesday morning pushed back against calls to drop out of the GOP presidential race in order to unite the conservative vote. Santorum told Fox News that people like fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich shouldn't tell other candidates to "get out of my way."  Gingrich, earlier in the morning, called for conservatives to unite behind one candidate. In the past, he has suggested other GOP candidates drop out of the race in order to avoid splitting the vote. "My message is everybody should run," Santorum told Fox News. "I don't think people should be telling other folks to get out of the race and get out of my way. If you want to run a race, run a race. You don't ask someone to quit just because you think you're the better candidate. I think I'm the better candidate but Newt has every right to run."


If Santorum had really wanted to twist the knife a bit, he could have mentioned the latest data from Gallup, which shows that Gingrich is the Republican nominee worst suited to compete with President Obama in crucial swing states.  According to the survey, Mitt Romney narrowly leads Obama among registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  Santorum and Ron Paul each poll within single-digits of the incumbent in these states.  What about Newt?
 

But Obama leads Gingrich, 54%-40%. The president's standing against him has risen nine points since early December; Gingrich has fallen by eight. Gingrich fares less well than Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who trails Obama by seven points, 50%-43%, and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who also trails by seven points, 51%-44%.


Based on this snapshot, Santorum could make the case that if conservatives want to defeat both Romney and Obama, Newt should be the one getting out and backing him -- although the former Senator's quote suggests that he'll do no such thing.  Also mentioned in my piece this morning was the indignant carping from Gingrich and his surrogates about "profoundly false" attacks and "gutter politics" emanating from Camp Romney.  How would Newt characterize this robocoll from his own campaign, targeting elderly and Jewish voters in Florida?
 


Mitt Romney wanted to deny kosher food to Holocaust survivors!  Except, he didn't.  Commentary's Alana Goodman clears things up with a helpful review of the facts:
 

In the end, the veto was overridden by the Massachusetts state legislature, and the facilities kept their kosher kitchens after all. But Romney’s decision was not, as Gingrich claims, a choice to “eliminate kosher food for elderly Jewish residents under Medicare.” First of all, it was a choice made by the nursing homes themselves, not the Massachusetts government. Second, it was never actually going to prevent kosher residents from accessing kosher food. And third, Romney’s decision wouldn’t have cut anything – he simply vetoed additional funds, keeping funding at the status quo during a budget crisis year. Which means Gingrich’s comments have little basis in reality.


Read the whole thing for additional details.  Unfair attacks have been flying from all quarters during this campaign, but it's preposterous for Newt to claim disporportionate victimhood when he's been smearing like mad ever since Iowa.


UPDATE - Interesting: Santorum leads Romney head-to-head by stronger margins than Newt in Ohio and Missouri.  The problem?  Newt didn't qualify for the Missouri (non-binding) ballot, and Santorum didn't register a full slate in Ohio.

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography