POLITICS
03/12/2012 03:20 pm ET Updated Mar 12, 2012

GOP Consultants Would Love To Help (Themselves To) Rick Santorum('s Money)

Rick Santorum's path to the nomination remains stuck somewhere on the spectrum between improbable and implausible. But at the moment, the candidate has got a better-than-even chance to steal back some of the momentum that the media narrative can provide, should he manage to win this week's contests in Alabama and Mississippi.

With so much hanging in the balance, Santorum's social conservative patrons have picked this moment to step up their support -- to the tune of $1.78 million, perhaps more.

So with the campaign still alive and kicking and its bank accounts about to get refreshed, it's as good a time as any for vulture consultants to swoop in and offer to carry off some of the scraps, in return for some dubious promises!

That's the under-the-radar takeaway from Alexander Burns' piece in Politico today about Santorum's reliance on a tight "team of pals" to run his campaign. See, while the candidate's "shoestring, seat of the pants-style campaigning" may have been "charming and even admirable" for a while, it's time for Santorum to face facts and bring in "a more expansive, professional political operation," composed of consultants and strategists who've thus far spent the entire campaign not believing in Santorum's candidacy.

To a certain extent, there's a good point to be made about how Santorum's low-budget campaign team has caused some unnecessary setbacks. The candidate's failure to get on the ballot in Virginia looms large, as does his failure to get all of his delegates in place in Ohio. Those are the sorts of problems that occur when your campaign lacks basic amenities in staffing and infrastructure. Of course, everyone has known that Santorum's been in this pickle for some time. Back in mid-February, Jonathan Chait made mention of the fact that Santorum had "no pollster, no campaign headquarters, and no paid advance staff." And I've mentioned previously that Santorum's operation in Michigan, for a long while, was a guy with a Facebook fan page.

All of which suggests that what Santorum could really use is a heavy investment in the basics. But the anonymous helper who shows up in Burns' piece has something different in mind:

Santorum's campaign, said one Republican familiar with his operation, has "never shown an ability to drop a bomb and drive a story."

"I almost feel like with [Santorum], he's their only messenger. ... They need to add more brains to the operation and more high-level people -- people that have run a U.S. Senate campaign, people who have worked at one of the party committees," the Republican said. "Feb. 7 [when Santorum won three primaries and caucuses] provided them an opportunity to address some of these problems. Right now, this period in the race does the same thing."

Yeah, Rick! Ol' anonymous consultant has some "high-level brains" that are prepared to sell you a monorail some "story-driving bombs" that will really GAME CHANGE -- for the right price.

Magical narrative bombs are the last thing Santorum needs to be investing in at the moment. What he could really use are more boots at ground level, doing the unsexy campaign work, like helping to turn out the vote in the coming contests and to wrangle as many delegates he can from those that have past. (By the way, he's already done the latter.) He should be very leery of "GOP consultants" who approach him bearing gifts now, after spending the better part of the past year pointedly not getting involved in his campaign. Unless he wants to be in debt to campaign carrion-eaters for the next few years.

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