It is unambiguously clear to any political observer who does not have
partisan preferences, and even to most who do, that the 2012 Republican
contest for the party's presidential nomination is over. Mitt Romney will
be that GOP candidate against Barack Obama in November.
On Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged as much
in a forthright and professional way. He also said that if, as he expected,
Mr. Romney were the nominee, he would do everything he could to assist
his election as president. This is what serious and mature politicians do. It
is what Mr. Romney himself did, as soon as he realized he could not win
the nomination in 2008, by promptly endorsing John McCain and then
working hard to help Mr. McCain in his November campaign.
Rick Santorum has apparently not reached the same conclusion as Mr.
Gingrich has, and continues his campaign, now risking that his hard work
in Iowa and his late emergence as a contender will be forgotten, and his
conduct from here on will be regarded as pathetic and a self-caricature,
possibly ending in two weeks in his home state of Pennsylvania where he
might well be humiliated by losing there.
Mr. Romney, for all intents and purposes, has moved on to the next level,
i.e. his contest with Mr. Obama. He had planned a massive ad buy
immediately in Pennsylvania, but in the face of the illness of Mr. Santorum's
daughter, he suspended these ads until the former Pennsylvania senator
returns to the campaign, presumably at mid-week. He thus demonstrates
a professionalism and personal stature that, alas, Mr. Santorum so far has
failed to show. (This, too, will likely not be lost on Pennsylvania voters.)
Ron Paul also remains in the race. He has not won a single primary or
caucus. Nontheless, he has consistently made his points about the economy,
and that was his purpose. He has indicated he would not, having lost the
race for the nomination, now turn and run for president as an independent.
He has had foreign policy disagreements with all the other GOP candidates,
but now at the end of his political career, he appears ready to bow out
Hillary Clinton retired from the 2008 Democratic nomination contest
although that race was much closer than the 2012 GOP race is now. She
might have contested some of Mr. Obama's delegates at the Democratic
convention, but the resulting bitterness and acrimony would have likely
doomed the Democrats' chances in November.
Electoral politics is a profession and a business. Those who are successful
in it know how it works best, and how, with room for individual personality
and imagination, a politician conducts himself or herself in a manner that
commands respect and admiration.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman
All rights reserved.