GOP primaries: Over?


Newt Gingrich listens to Rick Santorum during a presidential debate sponsored by Bloomberg and The Washington Post in New Hampshire in October. (Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

Conservative Republicans were saying “Anyone but Romney.” Reporters were rooting for “Everyone and Romney.”

But the post- New Hampshire reality is setting in.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry got 1,766 votes in the entire state of New Hampshire. That’s out of nearly a quarter of a million votes cast. A whopping 0.7 percent. (He only beat Herman Cain, who had already dropped out, by 1,600 votes.)

Seems pretty certain that the implausible Perry, who gave us that historic “oops” moment that the press milked for weeks, is gone.

We’ve already lost the always fun Rep. Michele Bachmann and her delightful husband. Ditto former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who, in addition to allegations of serious sexual misconduct we naturally chased after, treated us to that hilarious appearance at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board, trying to focus on the right Libya — as opposed to that other one — and to get control of “all of this stuff twirling around in my head.”

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman wasn’t exactly Mr. Excitement, but he provided a little ballast at times. He came in a disappointing third after practically moving from Kalorama to New Hampshire for the last few months.

Even worse, he’s now trailing comedian Stephen Colbert in South Carolina — the next primary on Jan. 21 — with 4 percent to Colbert’s 5 percent in a hypothetical match-up, according to a Public Policy Polling. (Colbert isn’t actually running.)

Former speaker Newt Gingrich, despite the Manchester Union Leader’s full-throated endorsement, got only 9.4 percent of the vote, tied with former senator Rick Santorum. Both of them look to be on the ropes now — Newt’s bravado notwithstanding.

And the 76-year-old Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) may hang in there a bit longer, but he came in more than 16 points behind Romney on Tuesday.

There’s plenty of big money around so they’ll probably stagger on, but they might as well invite country singer Lucinda Williams to the Monday debate in Myrtle Beach to sing her old hit: “It’s over, I know it but I can’t let go.”

Republicans and reporters may be in denial but the reality is, barring some miracle, it’s going to be the boring, awkward Mitt against the used Barack — no longer the champion of hopey changey.

Well, there’s always Casey Anthony.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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