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Insiders: Santorum, Gingrich Biggest Threats to Romney Insiders: Santorum, Gingrich Biggest Threats to Romney

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Politics

Insiders: Santorum, Gingrich Biggest Threats to Romney

Roughly half of Insiders on both sides of the political spectrum identified Santorum as Romney's toughest competitor, following Santorum's last-minute surge to tie Romney in the Iowa caucus results.

"Santorum's Iowa tie makes him a real Christian conservative place for those whom Romney leaves uninspired," said one Democratic Insider, "and it shows he is a viable vote-getter that the Bachman and Perry supporters can flock to."

"Santorum can take up the 'movement conservative' cause without the likability issues of Newt," explained another Democrat. "He will have to radically scale up his campaign in a very short period of time, before the Romney super PACs destroy him."

"Santorum's conservative bona fides, plus his investment (admittedly on a shoestring) in a grassroots organization, is a life raft for the sinking Perry, Bachmann, and Newt ships," agreed a Republican Insider.

"He's locked up the right wing at exactly the right time," said another.

However, many Republican strategists who see Santorum as Romney's toughest opponent still don't expect him to be much more than a speed bump on the way to a Romney nomination.

"Santorum will be the unlikely coalescer of the right. As such, he becomes the final hurdle," said one Republican. "He will be forceful, aggressive, and articulate, but will ultimately lose."

"He's the only one left standing - at least for the next 10 days," predicted another. A third Republican summed it up with a comparison to four years ago, calling Santorum "the Huckabee of 2012."

Approximately a third of the Insiders surveyed said Newt Gingrich remained the toughest obstacle for Romney's path to the nomination, though few seemed to think Gingrich had the capacity to surpass Romney in the polls. Instead, many Insiders predicted Gingrich would simply have a damaging score to settle.

"An angry, unhinged Newt is a danger to himself and other Republicans," said one Republican Insider.

"Newt is heavy enough (as former Speaker) and shameless enough (as Newt) to keep hammering," said another, "and even without money the press will cover him."

"Newt's got the chutzpah to tear at Romney in a way that the others don't; he won't hesitate to scorch the earth in the process," agreed a Democratic strategist.

"The angry history professor isn't about to let anyone forget the old Mitt Romney," said another Democrat. "We will hear about Romneycare and flip-flops every day now."

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At least one Republican Insider saw no particular hurdles left for a Romney nomination, but was none too happy about it. "He's the strongest we have in the race. Makes us all daydream of [Haley] Barbour, [Mitch] Daniels, and [Chris] Christie yet again!"

Democrats: Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

Republicans: Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O'Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.

DON'T MISS TODAY'S TOP STORIES

Chock full of usable information on today's issues."

Michael, Executive Director

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy , Director of Communications

Great way to keep up with Washington"

Ray, Professor of Economics

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