Romney Hasn’t Won Yet
Now that Mitt Romney has about wrapped up the Republican nomination for president. … What? He hasn’t? They changed the rules?The Republican Party, which did indeed change its nomination rules and has had to try to deal with new campaign finance circumstances, is a classic example of being careful what you ask for — or is it unintended consequences? By the old rules, Romney would be a lock. Now, he will still probably win, but the party may be the focus of weeks or months more of the ugliness many of us have enjoyed watching through these past months. Four years ago this week, after losing a handful of “Super Tuesday” primaries won by Sen. John McCain, Romney and others dropped out of the Republican primary race. The former Massachusetts governor had run respectably, won several primaries and caucuses and spent $40 million of his own money. No matter what happened next, McCain had the press, the money, the momentum and the delegates to virtually ensure nomination. The powers that be in the GOP, nationally and locally, decided then that the early victory deprived them of public attention as the press and nation turned to the race between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Republicans were lost in the excitement.The party decided to do something about it and did. The most important changes were to slow down delegate selection in important states and move the Republican “Super Tuesday” to March. It worked. Romney has dominated, but there are enough contests and candidates to keep it interesting — to say the least.Then came the other “Supers” — Super PACs — basically removing limits on campaign contributions by both individuals and corporations. Under the old rules, nomination fields were cleared by lack of “momentum,” a euphemism for not being able to raise money or press coverage after losing an important primary or two. Under those rules, Rick Santorum would be out of the race, Newt Gingrich would be broke and crippled, leaving Romney running against only Rep. Ron Paul and his libertarian snake oil.So the race slogs on. There will be delegate-selection primaries in only two states, Michigan and Arizona, on Feb. 28, which will settle nothing, leading up to the new Super Tuesday of March 6.The four remaining candidates will have the option of lying low or savaging each other, which they have been doing. That is not exactly what the party had in mind.
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