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The 2012 Republican presidential ticket that almost was

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THIS would have been great fun:

It’s one of the great untold stories of the 2012 presidential campaign, a tale of ego and intrigue that nearly upended the Republican primary contest and might even have produced a different nominee.

As Mitt Romney struggled in the weeks leading up to the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum almost agreed to form a joint “Unity Ticket” to consolidate conservatives support and topple Romney.

“We were close,” former Representative Bob Walker, a Gingrich ally, said. “Everybody thought there was an opportunity.”

“It would have sent shock waves through the establishment and the Romney campaign,” said John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist.

The negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president, as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek.com.

In the end,” Gingrich said, “it was just too hard to negotiate.”

Romney eked out a three-point win in Michigan on Feb. 28 and was never seriously threatened again. While this type of elaborate plotting is more typical of political thrillers, it was real this time. A year later, many who worked to build the Unity Ticket still believe it could have been decisive.

“I was disappointed when Speaker Gingrich ultimately decided against this idea, because it could have changed the outcome of the primary,” Santorum said. “More importantly, it could have changed the outcome of the general election.”

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