THE RACE: Romney has some hard choices to make

May 1, 2012 - 12:07 PM
Romney Former Foes

FILE - In this April 2, 2012, file photo, then Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks in Shawano, Wis. Some of Mitt Romney’s former foes have yet to endorse him as the Republicans’ presidential nominee. Santorum campaigned hard against Romney and the health care overhaul he signed into law as Massachusetts governor. Conservatives cast it as a precursor to Democrats’ national plan and Romney has vowed to repeal it. Santorum advisers say he will not back Romney until he is convinced that Romney is committed to upending it, as well as ensuring conservatives’ views are represented in the party’s platform and in Romney’s campaign. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Not only must Mitt Romney pick a running mate, he also needs to decide which former rivals he'll invite to speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August — if any. It won't be an easy decision.

How about Newt Gingrich, for instance, who once branded him "a liar"? A day before he is set to formally end his campaign, the former House speaker posted a video on his website Tuesday vowing to keep working to defeat President Barack Obama — without even mentioning Romney.

Or Rick Santorum, who branded Romney a "Massachusetts moderate" and "the worst Republican in the country" to face Obama?

At the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, a vanquished Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke glowingly of Barack Obama, imploring her loyalists to drop any grudges and "unite as a single party with a single purpose." The crowd went wild.

That seemed to work out nicely for both the president and his secretary of state.

But some former contenders wound up upstaging their party's standard-bearers, or delivering out-of-sync messages.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass, gave his stirring "the dream shall never die" speech at the 1980 Democratic convention in New York. It clearly outshone President Jimmy Carter's acceptance speech. An eloquent New York Gov. Mario Cuomo similarly upstaged Democratic nominee Walter Mondale at the 1984 convention in San Francisco.

President George H.W. Bush gave the podium to conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan at the 1992 GOP convention in Houston. The former rival went on to deliver a fiery speech that denounced "environmental extremists" and "radical feminism" and warned of "a culture war" in the country that he likened to "the Cold War itself."

It wasn't quite the unifying message the more politically moderate Bush, who liked to invoke a vision of a "thousand points of light," wanted to convey.

Now, it's Romney's turn.

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Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APCampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012.