With one Republican caucus and one primary in the books it has become clear who the favourite (or the least detestable) horses are in the campaign. Mitt Romney is breaking free from his Mr. 25% mold into the inevitable nominee role. While Ron Paul appears to be taking over the 25% position. The remaining candidates have become the anti-Romney candidate. For all practical purposes, this is a three way race now. It’s between Romney, Paul, and the anti-Romney.
Welcome to the Republican sub-primary. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and to a lesser extent, Rick Perry are all vying to become the anti-Romney Republican nominee for President. The problem is that they can’t individually overcome the the momentum of Mitt Romney. Which means they either need to find a way to compete with Romney or they need to band together to defeat Romney.
Efforts to discredit Romney are already afoot. A Gingrich Super Pac has released a half hour documentary of Romney’s exploits at Bain Capital. Rick Perry has joined in on the attack. But it’s doubtful that there will be a ‘Kumbayah’ moment where Huntsman, Santorum, and Gingrich (Sorry, Gov. Perry, but you’re toast) will band together as one viable opponent to challenge Mitt Romney.
Newt Gingrich appears to be hell-bent on Romney’s destruction after Romney Super Pacs took Gingrich down in Iowa (the irony of those who supported the Citizens United decision being attacked by that very decision is not lost). How to reconcile this group? Can it be done? Can Gingrich put aside his petty retribution? Will voters get behind the Jesus candidate (insert Tim Tebow moment here)? Will Huntsman finally throw in the towel and vow to return in 2016?
A meeting of evangelical pastors has been scheduled to try and convince one or more candidates to drop out and support the remaining anti-Romney candidate. But there is no agreement on whom that anti-candidate should be. Jon Huntsman is running on his own message. Gingrich is running on a retribution campaign, while Santorum…not entirely sure of the message, is running on the ultra conservative agenda.
Who will win the anti-Romney Sub-primary? Hard to tell. But they better make up their minds quickly because the voters will likely choose a Republican candidate by Super Tuesday in March. And that will probably be Mitt Romney.
If the anti-Romney candidate has any chance, they better coalesce now. Because if Romney wins South Carolina, it’s probably over.
Which means Romney will lose to President Obama. Oh well, conjecture is fun, too.
- Judge Won’t Let Perry, 3 Others on Virginia Ballot (newser.com)
- PPP South Carolina tracker: It’s Mitt Romney vs. Newt Gingrich (dailykos.com)
- Mitt Romney Bain Capital Experience: GOP Candidates Blast Front-Runner (huffingtonpost.com)
- Republican Race In South Carolina Tightens (outsidethebeltway.com)