Mitt Romney, Presumptive Nominee

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Mitt Romney is not yet ready to say it, but those grounded in reality should be.  After sweeping Maryland, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, Mitt Romney is the only candidate in the race for the Republican nomination with any evidence of forward momentum.  Romney takes at least 83 delegates from Tuesday’s contests.  Santorum will likely get 6.  Gingrich and Paul continue their “convention strategy” with no additional delegates to take to the convention.

In a sign that the Republican National Committee is also recognizing the reality of both having a presumptive nominee and his need for campaign cash, the RNC and Romney’s team announced on Tuesday that they will begin joint fundraising efforts.  After a bruising and expensive primary season, Romney will need to reload his warchest, and the RNC could use more funds as well.  The general election campaign will not come cheap, and they’re a month or two behind the original plan to have a nominee.

The biggest question now is when will Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum concede the inevitable and accept that the “Massachusetts Moderate” is actually the candidate that is preferred by the majority of Republicans, conservative and moderate alike.  Each is entitled to remain in the race for as long as they wish.  When they exit, and equally as important, how they exit will have a lot to say about the potential success of Romney in the fall election as well as their political futures and/or legacies.

Santorum is young enough that he can run again if he so chooses.  The history of the party is such that failure is rewarded as “experience” four or eight years later.  If Santorum doubts this, he need only be reminded of the man he will soon concede to and that man’s performance in 2008’s primary.  Yet Santorum is already wearing out his welcome among many party leaders as well as large segments of the voting population.  He will be remembered as the candidate who moved the talking points from taxes and the economy to contraception and pornography. 

His continuation is a problem not only for Romney in 2012, but for his future viability if he continues to be the reason the party is off message. Continuing negative attacks now that the RNC is even raising money to repair the damage to Romney from this primary won’t help him in the long run.  If Santorum wishes to have a future in a Republican Party that is one of a “big tent”, he must orchestrate a graceful exit between now and Pennsylvania’s April 24th Primary.

Gingrich is one who has more at stake in the present race than he has for his political future.  At his age, another Presidential run is unlikely.  This race was as much about validating the political life of a man who once was the legitimate heir to Ronald Reagan and delivered the first Republican majority in the house in four decades, but then fell from grace due to personal and political failings with a rapid descent.

While many looked at this race for Gingrich as a book tour, it appears much bigger than that to him.  Gingrich was already earning large consulting contracts and high five-figure speech fees.  His income was safer from the sidelines than it is now as a candidate long past a chance at the nomination.  This race was about Gingrich’s legacy.  Its continuation risks changing that legacy from a leader who delivered the Contract With America to a bitter man whose self-indulgence placed his own desires above those of the party and country he wishes to serve.  Continuing much longer risks validating Gingrich’s negatives instead of bringing back his positives.

While the timing of these candidates’ exit will be on their terms, there is one item that cannot.  They must actively support the nominee in both word and deed.  This will require renouncing earlier attacks on Romney, and helping to motivate and mobilize their supporters to get behind a candidate to whom many are actively averse.

Republicans are said to “fall in line” while Democrats “fall in love”.  The move must start from the top of each failed campaign.  Supporters may not wish to “love” Romney.  But most will quickly decide that they will fall in line as their only chance to change the occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Many of us may not be getting the Republican nominee we originally wanted.  But if the need among the Republican base is to have any hope for change, Mitt Romney is the only option remaining.  The line is forming now.

14 comments

  1. Calypso says:

    “[Santorum] will be remembered as the candidate who moved the talking points from taxes and the economy to contraception and pornography.”

    That’s because Santorum is not a leader; not an insightful person; not one to bring answers to pressing problems; and not capable of addressing the concerns which wrack this nation–jobs, the national debt, and the economy.

    He speaks of contraception and pornography because both he and his followers are shallow-minded people, choosing to become incensed over non-issues rather than tackling those issues which effect the lives of everyone.

    • John Konop says:

      In general I do agree with you. Yet especially as a parent, the issue of porn on the internet so easily accessed by minors is a valid issue Santorum brought up. I am not sure exactly how to regulate the issue, but it seems the geek squad with rational leadership could come up with a solution.

      • TolleyJenkins says:

        “I am not sure exactly how to regulate the issue.”

        I am. By parenting. And not through federal government prosecution of porn possession and distribution.

        • Rick Day says:

          but…but..that would put the responsibility to regulate their children’s behavior on John’s shoulders.

          How DARE the government….

          wait../

      • Engineer says:

        A solution already exists, it is called a parental/content filter. Many of these programs are widely available on the open market and offer a free market solution to this issue. No nanny state needed.

      • Rick Day says:

        Porn? How about guns? The medicine Cabinet? The Liquor cabinet?

        Of those 4 things a child can get into unregulated, which one is going to do the LEAST harm.

        I mean, after all John, you turned out fine with porn all around you. I’d wager you may have ‘accidentally’ seen porn as a kid, maybe ‘accidentally for hours at a time’.

        Quit being a Lawnmower Parent. Not everything out there is as ‘harmful’ as one has been warned by their Frothy Candidates™

  2. ryanhawk says:

    I applaud Mitt’s commitment to his faith and family, admire his accomplishments in the private sector, respect the successful campaign he has waged this cycle, and pray that his life experience has prepared him for what is to come.

    I voted for Ron Paul but now have a Romney bumper sticker proudly displayed on my car. The Presidential Primary is over and it’s time to focus on winning in November. Newt, Rick, and Ron need to bow out gracefully, endorse enthusiastically, and work diligently to elect the man who has beaten them in the race for the Republican nomination.

    • Rick Day says:

      How one can jump from being a Paul Supporter to a Romney Supporter can only be explained as conforming to the role of ideological party drone.

      Is that what you are, Ryan, or is it just a role you are forced to play by your PartyBosses™?

      Enjoy your defeat. Hope it keeps you warm on those cold nights to come.

  3. MouthoftheSouth says:

    The Republican fall in line, Dem fall in love idea was once an Article of Faith among political observers because the Republican party had pragmatism on lock. Santorum and Paul have brought back Kucinich style idealism to the Republicans and to win their adherents back Romney may have to forestall his etch-a-sketching until the convention. Proportional voting seemed like such a good, democratic idea, but it turns out that there are super emotional voters on the conservative side who are now encouraged to extend their candidate infatuations long enough to become loves. Those R primary voters who continue to swoon might prevent Romney from courting the voters who swing*.

    *Assuming that 1) they still exist and 2) aren’t so turned off that they won’t vote at all.

  4. Rick Day says:

    “Here. Come to our Party. The Main Course: A nice hot steaming plate of sh-t. Eat it, it’s all you are getting, unless you want more of that horrible chocolate cake. What? No thanks! Fine, then STAY HOME!”

    Republicans take ‘anti-choice’ to a whole new level sometimes….

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      “Here. Come to our Party. The Main Course: A nice hot steaming plate of sh-t. Eat it, it’s all you are getting, unless you want more of that horrible chocolate cake. What? No thanks! Fine, then STAY HOME!”

      In all fairness, I’m sure the same thing happens on the democrat’s side.

      But, yeah, you pretty much nailed it. That’s why we won’t see any significant changes. The American people are just going to keep running from one side of this sinking political nightmare to the other, before the bow finally sinks beneath the waves. Meanwhile, the band leaders and the cheerleaders (yes, we have cheerleaders on this Titanic!) will make for an even stranger display of chaos.

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