The Republican party bosses wanted this race over early. They would have been happy to have called it for Mitt Romney prior to the South Carolina primary. Unfortunately, there were a few "annoyances and hiccups.!"
For a few days it looked like Romney had it locked up. He had won Iowa and New Hampshire. He had the endorsement of South Carolina Governor(and Tea Party darling) Nikki Haley. The one Republican who was originally feared to be his most formitable opponent, Rick Perry, "was returning to Texas to access" his campaign. The primary was thought to be a "done deal."
Then came the first "hiccup." Rick Santorum had actually won Iowa. True, the former Pennsylvania Senator had not received the "bump" that he should have gotten after his unlikely win in Iowa. That had unjustly gone to Romney. The "annoyance" came in the form of payback from Newt Gingrich.
Smarting from the super PAC TV pummeling he took in Iowa, the former Speaker retaliated. Recession ridden, South Carolina became acquainted with "Bain Capital Mitt," the downsizer and outsourcer of small business in rural Americana. Gingrich's super PAC onslaught coupled with a solid debate performance delivered the Palmetto State.
Turn-about is fair play. Especially when you have a "Restore our Future" super PAC in your court. The result was a devastating blitz of more negative ads in Florida. Gingrich couldn't effectively respond. His campaign has never been the same; although he did score a convincing win in Georgia. It might be noted that Santorum had cut the campaign short to attend to his special needs daughter's illness in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps Romney strategists never took Rick Santorum seriously. There was certainly reason for it! He had no money and it looked like his campaign would dry up for lack thereof. Then came the sweep. Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri Santorum won in surprising fashion. Romney was quick to downplay all three losses. Missouri was actually nothing more than a straw poll. Romney didn't campaign in Minnesota. Colorado was a disappointment but it had an annoying number of "very conservative" voters.
Most disconcerting was that Michigan and Ohio were suddenly battlegrounds. Romney narrowly won both. But he was forced to pay a "pound of flesh" to do it. The payment came in the form of negative ads from his super PAC. Not to mention his own war chest! Santorum's fundraising efforts improved. But they came from $50 and $100 dollar contributions. His camp was gravely acknowledging how difficult it was to compete with Fortune 500 pocketbooks!
Also coming up short was Santorum's organization. He failed to make get on the Virginia ballot. Ohio was much closer than the lopsided delegate total. The trend of winning in the suburbs continued for Romney and resumed in Illinois. He was dominant with voters in households that boasted 200k plus incomes.
Throughout it all, Santorum continued to deliver the "blue collar," moderate income voters. His performance in Dixie has been impressive. Newt's disappointing finish in Louisiana may be a sign of things to come. But for now, he's still in the race.
Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia are "winner take all." There are 98 delegates at stake. A Romney sweep will once again bring out calls to end the primary and declare Romney the winner. This happened after Illinois, although nobody really thought that Romney would lose. So what is happening behind the scenes?
Florida Governor, Jeb Bush's endorsement may be a clue. So might Jim Demint's unofficial blessing. They are saying it's "time to focus on the general election." They emphasize the importance of "unity within party ranks." The subjectively point to Romney's assumed electability. What they are not stressing is "why" Rick Santorum would not be a viable alternative.
There is fear that the party may split, and for good reason. Conservatives never settled on one candidate. In the fall debates there was constant emphasis and magnification of "non general election issues." Three candidates with executive experience exited the race. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin(not to mention Bush) never became candidates. Considering the stakes, it wasn't the strongest of fields!
Some say that Santorum survived only because he was never on the radar. As we move in the "second half" of the primary season, he looks to be the only possible option to Mitt Romney. So why is Romney having such a difficult time closing the deal? Maybe it's because conservatives see him for what he is!
As one good friend in Fort Lauderdale phraised it, "Mitt Romney is a carbon copy of Bill Clinton. If you liked Bill Clinton, you'll love Mitt Romney. He's Clinton, without the sex scandals."
Don..., a lifelong Democrat admitted to having voted for Obama in '08. "But," as he surmised, "Obama turned out to be a lot more liberal than advertised." He will "enthusiastically" vote for Mitt Romney if he is the Republican nominee.
Don's perception seems to be consistent with most fellow Jewish voters in Broward County. Describing himself as a "Bill Clinton Democrat," Don thought that Hillary was "too polarizing." He had voted for Obama, thinking that he would be more moderate. He compares Romney to former Massachusetts Governor, William Weld, former Florida Governor, Charlie Crist and certain prominent Democrats.
"Mitt is similar to his old friend, Paul Tsongas." Don added. Tsongas, who ran unsuccessfully for President in 1992 as a Democrat, described himself as a "pro-business liberal."
There are perhaps millions of voters like Don in America. The Republican establishment thinks so. These "moderate Democrats to mushy Republicans,"living in the suburbs are comfortable with Mitt Romney. Many voted for Obama in 2008 and are unsatisfied, if not angry with his report card. The question becomes, "are these voters numerous enough to make the difference?"
Republicans are nearly unanimous in their preference for Marco Rubio as the Vice Presidential pick. Romney's glaring weakness with Hispanics would be greatly diminished with Marco on the bottom of the ticket. "Blue collar" Democrats gravitate to him. Younger voters see him as a "rock star." His record with women voters is impressive. Experts believe that he would deliver five key states to Romney.
At 41, Rubio would be positioning himself for a future presidential run. His close friend and mentor Jeb Bush has endorsed Romney. Why would there be hesitation? Maybe it's due to Romney being a "carbon copy" of the man he routed in the Florida Senate race.
A heavy underdog, Rubio overcame Republican national money and a cold shoulder from party leadership to run an unlikely campaign against an incumbant governor. Throughout the race, he never referred to Charlie Crist by name. He labeled him "the Arlen Specter wing" of the party. It's possible, if not probable that he sees Romney in the same light.
Rubio has not endorsed any of the candidates. But it might be noted that his people worked on the Gingrich campaign. It's also fact that Crist's former staffers aided the Romney Florida campaign. Rubio has admitted that he and Romney were "in agreement" on foreign affairs. Domestically, Rubio is a "supply sider." Romney is a "Keynesian."
In 2008, Rubio supported Governor Huckabee and applauds his "fair tax" proposal. Romney is a "progressive." Unlike Rubio, who favors an overhaul of the current tax system, Romney seems to be satisfied with adjusting the current structure. Romney believes that small business is the "backbone" of America. Most of Romney's financial support is coming from Fortune 500 companies.
In short, these two men are miles apart on most things. Without question, Romney would be happier to have a Bob McDonald, Mitch Daniels or Chris Chrisie as his running mate. But Governor Romney is a smart man. He knows that without the voters Rubio brings, he's in trouble.
There is concern that conservatives may revolt if Romney is the nominee and loses in the general election. This has been a long time in coming. That time could be upon us. Rubio could check that, turning a loss into a win. The Repubican Establishment is keenly aware of this.
In short, "will Marco Rubio do one for the team?" The "bluebloods" are utterly counting on it. But what if he doesn't?
Then there is the question of Romney failing to procure the necessary 1144 delegates. He is confident that he will get there. A sweep of Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will be big and it could happen. Santorum isn't on the ballot in D.C..Romney is polling ahead in Maryland. Wisconsin is still up for grabs. A Santorum win in the Badger state could prolong the outcome through May. The inevitability of a brokered convention would look more probable than ever! Then what?
Establishment types do not want Santorum as the nominee. Not because he can't beat Obama! He can and would be actually stronger than Romney in the general election. However, his past anti-right-to-work votes make big business nervous.His plan calls for bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores. Some see him as a "closet protectionist."
Romney's aide's now famous, "etch-a-sketch" analogy has become a keynote in the campaign. This hints to the fear that Romney has an alternative message for general election voters. Establishment fears the same from Santorum. Not that he would attempt to "remake" his campaign! A better description would be to "complete it."
There is no way to discuss renewed manufacturing in America without including measures to curb offshore outsourcing. This is a sensitive subject in California and the Industrial Midwest especially. Santorum is from a part of America that has been hurt by jobs shipped abroad for promise of fewer regulations and cheaper wages. Republicans agree on the regulations but not on the wages. A Santorum administration could easily introduce legislation that would tax companies who chose to ship jobs overseas. It wouldn't bode well for Fortune 500 companies.
That's why there will be an all out effort to convince Marco Rubio that he needs to be Romney's running mate. If he gives the Establishment bosses the same cold shoulder that they gave him in 2009, all bets are off. He might even do the "unthinkable" and endorse Santorum!
What about Newt? He has vowed that he will stay in the race until Tampa. Still, there is the chance that if he finishes May with 200 delegates and a real chance to thwart Romney's bid, he might do it.
Californa has 172 delegates in a winner take all primary. Romney holds the lead, but does not have a majority. If Gingrich chose to endorse Santorum and actively campaigned for him, it might be enough.
Ron Paul doesn't look to drop out. California has a strong representation of Libertarians. It's conceivable that the Texas Congressman could take 10-12% of the overall votes cast. Odds are, three fourth of Gingrich's supporters would back Santorum. There is also the chance that some of the other GOP heavyweights such as Sarah Palin might jump in on behalf of Santorum.
Anyway you cut it, even with super delegate help, Romney would be in deep trouble if he loses California. The Establishment hopes that these super delegates won't be needed. But if Romney shows up to Tampa with 1000 delegates, look for Santorum to be the nominee.
That's exactly why the "wheels are turning" behind the scenes. A Rubio endorsement of Romney could seal the deal nicely! And certainly more safely!
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