Santorum's out - it's now 'overdrive time' for Mitt Romney

With Rick Santorum out of the race, Mitt Romney can skip towards the finish line and enter 'campaign 2012' mode proper.

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On 10 April 2012 20:00

A shrewd move by Rick Santorum and his campaign team today saw Brand Santorum finally throw in the towel - a towel that for months, many pundits have been furiously waving from the outside of the ring on his behalf.

For the Republican Party, this moment is nothing short of cathartic. I dread to think how much hot air is rising above Washington D.C. at this point as GOP strategists all both simultaneously exhale in relief and gob off about how 'they knew it was coming today'. Somebody call the climate cops.

For the man himself, Rick Santorum held on until a moment where he could no longer be seriously sure of victory in his home state of Pennsylvania. It would simply have been too embarrassing for the former Senator to lose on home turf to Mitt Romney. Yep, the polls were inclusive (what's new?) but as Romney edged into the lead in last week's Public Policy Poll, the Santorum team and the Santorum family would have been nervously eyeing the rankings as well as having serious familial health concerns to contend with. Finally, the camel's back broke. With this relatively successful campaign behind him (let's face it - Santorum was the butt of all jokes just six months ago, no pun intended) Santorum has left the primary in a position to command a level of respect in the party that would simply not have been afforded to him if he had hung on until Pennsylvania. 

Oddly, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still technically in the race. While Newt will likely be sitting in the Death Star at home wringing his hands with glee, the likes of Sheldon Adelson and many former Gingrich supporters just took their phones off the hook. It's over, Newt. Let the GOP move on.

So this leaves a mano-a-mano between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Except it doesn't. Paul's fundraising machine appears to be on the fritz, as does his ability to muster up any serious support, even though his campaign simply cannot stop banging on about how it is the fastest and/or largest grassroots organisation America has ever seen. Martin Luther King wept. Ron Paul has about as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do. That's not actually fair. I could do better.

So presumably we can now all watch Romney skip to victory, towards the Republican convention and beyond into campaign 2012. Except there's still one problem: Mitt Romney. The man must stop playing the role of his own worst enemy in the campaign. Effectively, party time has stopped. No more gaffes. No more bets. No more 'corporations are people'.

For all the 'Etch-a-sketch' lampoonery about Mitt Romney's 2012 expedition - the truth is that these next few weeks will be the pivotal moment for Romney to wipe the slate clean, renew his attacks on Barack Obama and convince both the party base and the American electorate that he's the right man to see them through until Chris Christie sweeps in to actually turn the country around in 2020 the next two Presidential terms.

With Iran, US bankruptcy, a collapsing Euro, healthcare and many of these other fine messes on the horizon, Romney has a wide coterie of campaign fodder to lob at President Obama. He'll have to snap out of primary mode - as his campaign have actually been doing over the past ten days anyway - and move into 'global statesman' mode. This isn't an easy transition - but actually Romney will likely prove rather adept at it. As long as he steers clear of making $10,000 bets.

Of course this is now 'fundraising overdrive' time for all involved. Watch as Obama's team put out a derogatory press release about stopping Mitt Romney within just a few hours of now - and how Romney responds in kind with his own moneybomb appeal. Despite how the past eight months have played out - it has actually been a rather interesting contest (does anyone remember Michele Bachmann?) - but from here on out will be where the fun is had.

That's not to make light of the situation though. America faces a truly important decision this coming November. Whether or not when asked the question of Obama's first term the US electorate responds, 'Yes We Still Can' or 'No We Can't Stand You' will determine the future of not just America but every person that has a stake in what the United States does. Yep. All seven billion of us.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator. He tweets at @RaheemJKassam

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