Respected Republican leaders—such as Tom Coburn and Eric Cantor—are rallying around Romney now. They don't see a viable alternative, and they see that prolonging "the process" isn't going to benefit Republicans. As I've said, Romney's method has been to make his opponents look bad without making himself look good. And it turns out that all of the non-Romneys, for different reasons, weren't ready for prime time. Romney needs to get on with selling himself over the next few months. And responsible Repubicans are about learning how to love him (that love not being a natural instinct).
The main objection to nominating Romney still remains: Obamacare is hugely unpopular, and most Americans think it's unconstitutional. The heart of the Republican campaign—for reasons of both principle and expediency—should be its repeal. Romney's effort to make that case seems to be severely compromised by his inability to distinguish Obamacare sufficiently from his own Romneycare—the main achievement of his single term as governor. It's also compromised by his 2009 USA TODAY op-ed in which he encouraged the adoption of a national mandate. Mandates work! And Mitt didn't mention any constitutional qualms.
Now many BIG THINK readers have let me know that they think the only thing good about Mitt is Romneycare, and the good people of Massachusetts are better off as a result. Skipping over, for now, the merits of that claim, I will just say that just about none of those readers are about to vote for any Republican. After all, they (unlike most Americans, it seems) are okay or better with Obamacare too.
Santorum's stellar debate moment was when he got Romney all balled up in a futile effort to distinguish between the two "cares." And Romney's greatest debate accomplishment was getting Santorum so off his game in the Arizona event with fake issues such as earmarks that Rick was unable to return to his successful line of attack.
One reason Santorum seems to be toast (not 100% sure, but...) is that he doesn't have the staff required to conduct a successful presidential campaign. (Romney's research staff has been consistently excellent.) So he didn't find out about the easily GOOGLE-able Romney op-ed in time to use it in a debate.
A quick persual of this morning's polls suggest that Romney will almost surely sneak by in Ohio, although a narrow defeat won't hurt him that much. There's a Gingrich surge in Georgia and Tennessee and, according one poll, even in Ohio. With the exception of Virgina (where the only other candidate on the ballot is Paul) and Massachusetts, Romney may not break 40% anywhere. The sad search for an adequate non-Romney goes on, even though Santorum and Romney both failed their screen tests.
So Romney will likely be in the same place McCain was after Super Tuesday in 2008. He isn't getting that many votes, but those opposed to him lack a plausible candidate and are otherwise in disarray. Romney, much more than did McCain, has the organization, money, and discipline to pile up the delegates.
BIG THINKER Daniel Honan has reminded us of one reason Mitt makes it so hard for us to love him: fear of persecution. His highly admirable personal life—as a great husband and dad, faithful and dutiful believer, and so forth—is as a Mormon. He's afraid, apparently, to show us his Mormon side. And who can deny that Americans, at this point, may be more prejudiced against the possibility of a Mormon president than a woman or African-American one? I, for one, think the Mormon side of Mitt might still be most reassuring to most Americans if openly and "authentically" displayed. In any case, Mitt has no choice but to go for it, if he really wants to be president.