After losing Mississippi and Alabama; Romney can now claim victory
The GOP candidate will be Mitt Romney. You heard it here last.
You’ll have noticed that I’ve stayed as far away from making predictions about who the inevitable GOP candidate would be, hedging my bets or rather, simply not wanting to accept that any of these four would go on to secure the nomination.
At this point I’m afraid that I am one of the sole observers of this race yet to declare it in favour of Willard (Mitt) Romney – that’s about to change.
Last night Romney showed us once again that he isn’t able to secure the backing of the entire party. This makes you wonder – is it his fault, or perchance a reflection on the schisms that run deep within the American right? I’m now inclined to think the latter - and that's not solely Mitt's problem to solve.
Since the Tea Party all but sailed off into the distance (setting off from Boston along the choppy waters of Massachusetts Bay, presumably), the Republican Party has had few issues to corral around. The intense debate schedule of the past few months has left everyone scratching their heads, “Why so many debates?” The reason is becoming clear to me now.
The candidates, campaigns and Republican-aligned voters have been searching for their issues this coming election. Last summer everyone was repeating the mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Well, stupid - it’s not just the economy.
Sure, you only need to link to a few polls from which you can infer that the top issue for voters is undoubtedly the US economy – but besides the Paul Ryan plan, the candidates pushing for the office of president have scarcely articulated precisely how they will mend this limping horse. Instead, they just keep flogging it with bluster about red tape, tax cuts and Obamacare. It’s no wonder the base aren’t enamoured with one of these men.
With the economy slowly coming back to life, Republicans will also be concerned over their attack lines post-convention and going into the general election. Effectively they’ve been setting this up on a plate for Obama i.e. if the economy is in a much better position by November (not impossible) then the President will be able to own the issue as his number one accomplishment, despite what some economists may cry.
Looking to the US news cycle, it’s becoming evident that the candidates are increasingly allowing the news cycle to control them and not vice versa, as the case should be. From SuperPACs to slut-gate the campaigns simply are not steering the ship – and that’s a consequence of them needing the media so badly. Two candidates could be a more looming prospect for journalists – denying access for 'rogue' reporters, playing favourites and so forth. Sadly for this bunch, they need to charm the pants off the hacks and as a result – they are in tow.
So Republican voters need to assert precisely what they want the candidates to stand for. Up until now, they’ve been waiting to hear something they like. If the primaries are anything to go by, they’ve not really heard all that much – although one might argue that Santorum’s sustained bump is because he knows how to discuss issues (even though they may not be appealing to the mainstream).
Republican strategists, commentators and voters must now pick up where their candidates thus far have left the baton – at the starting line. Unless this is the case, and the party doesn’t start to form consensus around one candidate and issues of strength to the party, they’ll be guaranteeing a second Obama term.
In my opinion, the man the party must now rally around is Mitt Romney, and the issues are America’s place in the world, seeing off European-style big government, economic might and facing down belligerent regimes (not necessarily with military might, mind you).
Despite the headlines you've read over the last day, Romney picked up the most delegates last night and the math tells us that it is nearly impossible for Santorum or Gingrich to amass the number of delegates they’d need to pinch the title from him. Right now, they’re no longer game changers – they’re game spoilers for the GOP. It’s time to make them feel wholly unwelcome.
Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor for The Commentator and tweets at @RaheemJKassam
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