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Right Turn
Posted at 08:22 AM ET, 03/07/2012

Romney beats Santorum, 6-3

When all the nails were bitten in Ohio and all the votes counted from Massachusetts to Alaska, Mitt Romney had won six of 10 Super Tuesday contests (including all three of those states) and jumped to a commanding lead in the delegate count. Romney now leads with 415 delegates to 176 for Rick Santorum. Romney narrowly won Ohio, which before Tuesday was dubbed the must-win state for both him and Santorum, and picked up wins in every region of the country except the Deep South.

It is only in a media environment in which so many pundits are rooting for the pummeling to continue in the GOP could this be characterized as “failing to close the deal” or evidence of weakness by Romney. Unlike every other GOP nominating contest, the standard for this year appears to be that Romney should and must win virtually every state other than his opponents’ birthplaces.

In the general election, of course, the GOP could nominate a can of juice and still carry the Deep South and slam-dunks such as Oklahoma and North Dakota. The issue is, and has always been, who can carry swing states, including those in the Rust Belt. That was the essence of Santorum’s claim, namely that only he could appeal to voters in those urbanized locales. But if Super Tuesday showed anything, it is that he has insufficient appeal to carry just such places even within his own party.

The argument from Santorum is that he is losing because he is being outspent, but that is wearing thin. You get no credit in the electoral college for fewest dollars spent per voter. Should the Republicans nominate someone who can’t raise the big dollars and can’t win in critical areas?

The evening was not kind to Santorum in another respect. He gave yet one more unprepared address in which he skipped from topic to topic, sounding less and less presidential with every line. He was, even for him, unusually negative and defensive, spending most of his time going after what he continues to insist is his opponent’s greatest weakness, Romneycare. It is not simply the vote totals but the weekly side-by-side contrast between the two men that is working against him. Romney is focused, calm and taking on the president. Santorum is trying to convince voters that losses are moral victories.

It is hard to see how anyone but Romney can win the GOP nomination. Newt Gingrich’s apparent determination to stay in the race will make it that much easier for Romney to rack up wins as Gingrich and Santorum, the two social conservative favorites, split the vote.

As for Romney, he will likely all but forget about his current opponents, as he did last night. He now will train his guns almost exclusively on President Obama. In doing so he will try to shift the debate from the opponent nipping at his heels to the president’s record. Democrats have convinced themselves that Obama has a swell record of achievement. Romney is going to put that to the test, challenging the idea that 8 percent unemployment, a huge debt, a health-care plan the public dislikes and a growing Iranian menace constitute a successful record.

By  |  08:22 AM ET, 03/07/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Media

 
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