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Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 03/15/2012

Republicans are in a war of attrition

Republicans are now in a war of attrition. It could be Mitt "I Have the Math" Romney vs. Rick "Some People Are Actually for Me" Santorum all the way to the convention. There is no modern precedent for this in the GOP.

There is a convoluted argument that the fight won't hurt our nominee or that it could even make him stronger. There is another more commonsensical brief argument that the fight weakens the nominee, big time.

Of course it would be better if our nominee were shaping issues, having a media honeymoon, setting contrasts with President Obama and raising a war chest for the fall.

Instead, the campaigns are scrambling to build delegate databases and reliable internal counting systems for which there is no modern template. I would also be surprised if either campaign has a messaging strategy. Everyone is tired. The easiest thing to do is to attack and see what happens. The issues that really matter will probably get lost in the shouting. None of this is flattering.

Romney wants to get to the convention with the most delegates, having received the largest number of raw votes, and with as many leadership endorsements on hand in Tampa as possible. Santorum wants to hold Romney to less than a majority of the delegates, get to the Tampa convention and then hope Romney can't close. Newt Gingrich wants to go to the convention and hear the crowd roar at his speech or be kingmaker, whichever offers the most grandeur.

What does all this mean? It means Obama is happy. The contrast between the above and a state visit by the British prime minister couldn't be worse for the GOP.  The president's spring and summer won't be interrupted by a bothersome opponent while he builds a Potemkin record.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 03/15/2012

 
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