Okay, what’s next for the Republicans?
1. Romney is the probable nominee and his opponents need to stop him soon to have any chance at all of winning.
2. The best thing that could happen to the un-Romney candidates would be for most of them to drop out and let one or two carry on. Perry: out. Gingrich: out. Santorum: out. That would leave Huntsmann, Romney and Paul. Alternatively, Huntsmann could drop out and leave...who? Gingrich or Santorum? Neither one of those guys is a creditable candidate for president, but dividing the anti-Romney votes is only going to help the former Massachusetts governor. (One of the problems of getting anyone to drop out is that these guys, as ex-office holders (save Paul and Perry) have no jobs to go back to. If they stop running, they get to sit on the couch.)
3. Idea #2: Each of the anti-Romney candidates picks a state to make their stand. Perry can have Florida, perhaps, where the other Bush son did so well and which, after all, is actually a southern, old south state at heart. If each one were to pick a state or a group of states and the others stayed away, they might have a chance. In states where those not registered as Republicans can vote in the primaries, Paul is also bringing in a lot of independents, but it is not likely that those voters will follow the party in the fall. Right now, these guys are ripping apart their party and their probable nominee, which is the best news for Obama since the last jobs figures came out.
4. The un-Romneys need to pressure Ron Paul to drop out after South Carolina and put him back in the category of a minor, protest candidate. Right now, he’s taking a massive number of votes from the un-Romneys.
5. If any of the un-Romneys cares about their party, they should back off the heavy duty attacks on him and start acting like traditional Republicans, which means the attacks should be behind the scenes where they don’t threaten to destroy the potential nominee (i.e. the kind of background attacks Bush did in South Carolina with his rumors, spread by phone calls, against McCain in 2000.)
6. Dropping out is a difficult decision for any candidate because Romney has shown signs in the last couple of days of being desperate to connect with “the common man”, even though his life is anything but common and his stories about the ordinariness of his life sound about as believable as a rock star talking about how tough life is on the road. Romney might yet commit fatal errors that would bar him from the nomination, but right now, as the cliche goes, it is his to lose.
Doug Terry, 1.11.12