As the possibility of a brokered convention in Florida looms larger so the talk of a new candidate being placed before the convention. Palin, Daniels, Ryan, Christie and Bush all having their supporters.
And yes, a plausible case can be made for such an occurrence. Certainly there have been GOP conventions which were not settled when the opening bell rang e.g. 1952 and 1976 and the 1948 convention went to three ballots before settling on Thomas E. Dewey so there is precedence.
But for someone who is not currently a candidate to reach the point of being nominated the barrier that is simply one of the current candidates asking his delegates to switch to another candidate would have to be surmounted. That possibility is, frankly, far more likely than a newcomer to the race emerging at Tampa.
If things progress as they seem likely to now, that is with Romney having a lead in delegate support with Santorum having a substantial number of delegates.Then with with Gingrich's and Paul's delegates there could be enough to prevent Romney from gaining the nomination. At that point a a deal could very much be in the offing.
For Santorum to release his delegates to Romney in exchange for the vice-presidential spot would give Romney a balanced ticket. It would give Santorum national prominence which would mean a remarkable rise for him.
Santorum would go from being an ex-senator who suffered a massive defeat when running for re-election, to being possibly vice-president and certainly a "next in line" candidate for the presidential nomination after 4-8 years of a Romney presidency. If Romney lost, Santorum would have a clear shot at the nomination in 2016.
The ticket would be balanced with a Mormon, and an Italian descent Catholic VP candidate, from a traditional religion with a massive following. Questions over Romney's social conservative credentials, and pro-life attitude could be put aside by having Santorum's impeccable credentials in both those respects.
The ticket would be headed by a "moderate to appeal to Independents and a social conservative to appeal to the Tea Party supporters. It would have a businessman, a member of the Beltway Republican insider faction balanced by a VP with the traditional American "family of immigrants who made good from a working class background."
There is of course absolutely no problem with fixing the antagonisms and mutual attacks going on now-that is all part and parcel of campaigning and everyone knows it. Reagan and Bush had no problem becoming a team, as did JFK and LBJ for the Dem's. The call for 'reconcilliation for party unity' would soon end any problems with the ensuing love fest.
There are notions that a de facto Romney and Ron Paul combination can be effected by having the younger Paul (who would be "honored" to be considered") as the VP. That would work too for balance and bring Paul's dedicated followers on board.
Much might depend on how many delegates Paul brings to Tampa, If , as seems likely, Santorum has many more, then the Romney/Santorum pairing seems more likely. Perhaps the threat of Ron Paul bolting and running as a third party candidate, which would guarantee a Republican loss, might still be enough to tilt the VP nod to Rand Paul.
That might be an harder pill for the convention to swallow and the pesky problem of having enough delegates from the combination would still be there. No, Romney/Santorum seems more likely.
The one possible fly in the ointment is Newt Gingrich. Whilst a Romney/Gingrich pairing is possible, and brings a good north/south, Mormon/ex-Protestant now Catholic pro-life conservative in tandem, the reconciliation process might be challenging.
Gingrich genuinely doesn't seem to like Romney and, whilst that is not an impenetrable impediment, it might prove a bridge to far. Not only for Newt, but for his delegates and the party
If a Romney/Santorum pairing still doesn't have enough delegates then Newt, who would have no chance of getting the nomination, might do something which could change everything.
After the first ballot Gingrich could ask his delegates to switch to a then introduced Palin in return for being her VP. Palin has all but endorsed Newt, was instrumental in his South Carolina, win and of course her husband Todd has openly endorsed him.
Everything rides on the delegate balance, and especially Newt picking up substantial support in the southern primaries whilst Santorum splits the northern delegations with Romney.
Whether any combination which included Mitt Romney and a Paul, or Santorum would motivate conservatives to vote for the team is open to debate.
Whether it would do better than a Palin/Gingrich team is also open to debate but for me the question is settled-no Gingrich or Palin then no vote.
Certainly George Will doesn't think much of either Romney or Santorum's chances against Obama