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Passive-aggressive endorsement may doom Santorum's hopes for a speaking slot this summer

Rick Santorum finally came out Monday and endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency.

Rick Santorum finally came out Monday and endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency. But the former Pennsylvania senator did it in a way that was so grudging -- he waited until the thirteenth paragraph of an email sent to supporters at around 11pm -- as to seriously damage his chances of having much pull with the Romney camp going forward.

“This meeting, this email, did nothing to endear him to the Romney folks,” said Politico’s Mike Allen on Morning Joe Tuesday. “We’re about to have a big test of the backbone of the Romney campaign. Will they deny Rick Santorum a speaking slot [at the convention]?”

“There’s people at the top of the campaign who have concluded that the chances that Rick Santorum will give a helpful speech, an on-message speech, are zero,” Allen continued. “And so there’s a big push to say, we’re just not going to have him speak.”

GOP consultant Mark McKinnon said the Romney campaign would pay little price for shutting Santorum out.

“There’s many other conservatives that can speak at the convention that will rally the conservative base in a way that’s probably greater than Rick Santorum could,” McKinnon said. “So there’s no downside to just telling him to take a hike.”

As for Joe Scarborough, he made his feelings clear. “I wouldn’t let a guy like this anywhere near the stage,” he said.

Willie Geist noted that another of Romney’s defeated opponents offered a similarly lukewarm endorsement recently. “Newt Gingrich was only slightly less tepid last week,” Geist said.

Allen said both Gingrich and Santorum waited too long to back Romney, and miscalculated their positions.

“They both think that they have way more leverage than they do,” he said, noting that recent polling shows over 90 percent of voters in both parties support their respective nominees.

In other words, said Allen, “the bases are almost already consolidated.”