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The Insiders
Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 01/11/2012

What’s next for the candidates

Mitt Romney looked fresh, energetic and enthused at his victory celebration last night. He even looked like a president. His speech was the right mix of positive aspirations and hits on President Obama. He still can’t take the nomination for granted, but so far, so good.

Give Ron Paul his due. He still has a ceiling, but it is higher than I thought it would be. Every candidate in each party should be respectful of the libertarian sentiments that are growing in America. Paul isn’t the best messenger, so there must be a real message and he alone is offering it a voice.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum could continue. Gingrich may be content to flame out shaking his fist at Romney, with the only question being how much damage he can cause the former governor.

Santorum could believe that evangelical voters might rally around him in South Carolina and he could win. It wouldn’t be true, but he could believe it.

Jon Huntsman somehow developed a one-state strategy and he failed in the one state. Game over.

The commentary last night began setting expectations for Romney in South Carolina and beyond. Does he have to win South Carolina? Does he have to win it blindfolded? Does he have to win Florida with one arm tied behind his back? Etc. Regardless of the tacks his opponents throw in his path, the handwringing by the third- and fourth-place finishers, or the obstacle course the media will create for him, Romney looks like a winner.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 01/11/2012

 
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