Rick Santorum dropped his presidential bid nearly a month ago, so his meeting here Friday with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney would have seemed like the perfect opportunity to offer Romney his endorsement.
But even before the 90-minute meeting took place, everyone knew that no such nod would be coming anytime soon. Santorum, like pretty much everyone else who has run in the Republican presidential contest, has embraced the party's standard-bearer with a stiff arm. Of course they will work to defeat President Obama, they say. Yet few have been willing to get behind their party's winner with anything approaching enthusiasm.
When he dropped out of the race last week, Newt Gingrich damned Romney with faint praise, saying that he was no Ronald Reagan and then reiterating in an interview that he thought Romney was a liar. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota got around to endorsing Romney on Thursday, a full four months after she dropped out. And some of the hottest stars in the party avoided weighing in until the race was a foregone conclusion — notably Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, Floridians whose nods would have meant far more before the state held its crucial primary in January.
"Their endorsements remind me almost of hostages," said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. "I half expect them to be doing Morse code with their blinks."