Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman gave differing views on how to fix the problems with American politics in an exchange last night at the National Constitution Center.
Both agreed Congress is too partisan, elections are too nasty, and unlimited political contributions are bad for democracy.
To fix things, Whitman favors the plan of Americans Elect, a non-profit working to nominate a bi-partisan ticket of problem-solvers through an online convention in June.
“We will be on the ballot in every state in the nation, that’s already well underway,” Whitman said. “And we don’t have a platform, which is why we’re not a party. We want to be a choice for people, a third choice.”
Rendell said he understands the sentiment, but thinks the idea is dangerous, because it could prevent any presidential candidate from getting a majority in the electoral college, and throw the election into the House of Representatives.
“How do you like those apples?,” Rendell asked the audience. “I mean, the House of Representatives deciding who your next president will be?”
Whitman said those involved in Americans Elect would commit to resolving a contested election in the electoral college so it doesn’t go to the House of Representatives.
Both former governors said they thought Mitt Romney is the inevitable nominee of the Republican party, and Rendell said Rick Santorum would be smart to get out of the race before the April 24 Pennsylvania primary.
“If you’re Senator Santorum, think of where you were a week before Iowa,” Rendell said. “You were going to be an inconsequential flea on this picture. You’ve won ten states. You’ve done very well for yourself. If you hang in there and lose your home state, that’s the only thing that’s going to be remembered.”
Whitman agreed Santorum should bow out now, but thinks he’s reluctant to cede the conservative spotlight to Newt Gingrich, who has pledged to stay in the race to the convention.