Campaign Notes: When will Romney seal the deal?

By John Barron

This week’s Republican presidential primaries in Maryland, Washington DC, and Wisconsin are shaping up to show strong results for Mitt Romney and will add more weight to calls for his rivals to drop out.

In the past week, Republican young guns Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Paul Ryan, and old stagers President George H.W. Bush and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell have joined the chorus saying it’s time for the party to get behind Romney.

The trouble is Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul don’t seem to be listening.

Last week Newt Gingrich was told by his principle financial backer, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, there would be no more $10 million cheques for Newt’s SuperPAC.

Gingrich sacked his campaign manager and more than a third of his paid staff, yet vowed to stay in the race until the convention in August. He no longer expects to win primaries and delegates, just an electability argument at a brokered convention.

Rick Santorum, meanwhile, is being outspent ten to one by Romney in Wisconsin, has slipped 15 per cent behind him in national polls, and trails by more than 300 delegates. But he too sees a path to the nomination whereby he makes up some ground in large winner-take-all states like Texas in May.

And then there’s Ron Paul, who hasn’t won a single state primary or caucus and retains a veneer of a campaign in order to further his libertarian cause.

As former Romney advisor Steve Lombardo told me recently on Planet America, because Santorum and Gingrich are both out of elected office and Paul is effectively a party of one, there is nobody who can tap them on the shoulder and say it’s time to get out.

Sometimes presidential candidates can be like old boxers: bloodied, beaten, absorbing blow after blow, but still swinging out of habit. That’s when they need someone in their corner prepared to throw in the towel before permanent damage is done.

Sheldon Adelson may have effectively thrown in the towel for Gingrich, even as Newt continues to wander around the ring, but Santorum and Paul have a lot more small donors prepared to keep propping them up.

2 April 2012