Two-Front War for Santorum?

This is certainly a fine day for thinly-sourced reports of developments that could roil the GOP nomination contest. Hot on the heels of the BuzzFeed report that Team Romney is ready to pummel Rick Santorum comes a Wall Street Journal scoop suggesting that poor Rick could be about to get it in the neck from Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC thanks to another big check–perhaps as much as $10 million–from Sheldon Adelson. According to the Journal‘s Alicia Mundy and Alexandra Berzon, Adelson doesn’t like Santorum’s hard-core anti-choice positions (not that they are terribly different from those of Sheldon’s boy Newt), and may actually be trying to indirectly help Mitt Romney, who has been courting Adelson rather overtly for weeks.

In a bit of political chess, Mr. Adelson is ready to not only directly support the former House speaker in the Republican primary, but to use his cash to push Rick Santorum from his position atop the latest national polls, according to people who have discussed the matter with Mr. Adelson.

If Mr. Gingrich could afford to continue campaigning, one of those people said, he might be able to draw off conservative and evangelical voters from Mr. Santorum, improving the chances of Mitt Romney, who Mr. Adelson believes has a better chance to win November’s general election.

“Sheldon says we all have to keep our eyes on the goal here—beating Obama,” said a person who talked with Mr. Adelson.

Assuming Adelson really is playing a double game, it will be interesting to see where Winning Our Future spends his money. If the main idea is to stop the Santorum Surge, it might be a good idea to help Mitt take Rick down in the 2/28 primary states of Michigan and Arizona. If the Prime Objective is to prop up Newt, then it might be more prudent to target the southern states voting on Super Tuesday (OK, TN, and Gingrich’s home state of GA, where Santorum seems to be making a real move).

Unless all these reports are bogus, the one thing that does seem clear is Rick Santorum’s days of floating along with a high favorable-unfavorable ratio while Romney and Gingrich roll around in the mud are about to come to an abrupt end. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.