John McCain? Seriously?

The latest head-scratching move from Team Romney (sounds like a new project from the "South Park" guys) was a decision to -- in the wake of Rick Santorum's surge as a conservative alternative for the former Massachusetts governor -- roll out an endorsement...from John McCain.

On one level, sure, it's Politics 101. McCain is probably more popular in New Hampshire, where he won the GOP primary in 2000 and 2008, than he is in Arizona, so today's endorsement at the start of "New Hampshire week" is supposed to be a back-breaker. But Romney is probably going to win New Hampshire in a landslide with or without McCain's backing.

The thing about McCain is that while the GOP rank-and-file tolerated him in the fall of 2008, the Tea Party base of Republicans (64 percent of last night's Iowa caucus goers) will never forgive him for the ultimate sin of -- in their mind, anyway -- handing the White House over to Barack Obama. So with Santorum picking up boatloads of stray Tea Party voters, especially in South Carolina, that's the image the Romney campaign puts out there? McCain? Dumb.

Meanwhile, the New York Times said picking a candidate wasn't any easier for McCain than it's been for your average Republican:

Mr, McCain’s prickly relationship with Mr. Romney during the 2008 campaign for the Republican nomination animated a series of debates in which Mr. McCain accused Mr. Romney of supporting a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Mr. Romney accused Mr. McCain of “the kind of dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found to be reprehensible.” In “Game Change,” a book on the 2008 campaign, the senator repeatedly groused that Mr. Romney would say anything to win the nomination and accused him of lacking a soul.

But the ill will between Mr. McCain and Mr. Santorum may run deeper, through their years in the Senate. In May, talking to the radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mr. Santorum spoke at length about the intelligence that he said United States security forces obtained through the waterboarding of the Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a technique Mr. McCain has denounced as part of his broader campaign against torture.

He doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works,” Mr. Santorum said of Mr. McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war who was tortured repeatedly during his years in captivity.