Looks Like It’s Romney, Almost
It’s almost official. For weeks, the media—and this blog—have been referring to Mitt Romney as the “presumptive” Republican presidential nominee. However, Romney’s win in the Texas primary last week pushed him past the 1,144 delegates he needs to gain the nomination.
A Hard Road to Victory
A former governor of Massachusetts, Romney unsuccessfully sought his party’s presidential nomination in 2008. This election year, however, Romney has been at the forefront of a field that at one time consisted of as many as nine viable hopefuls.
One by one, Romney’s contenders have fallen by the wayside. Early on, Georgia businessman Herman Cain and Texas governor Rick Perry each experienced surges, but eventually dropped out.
The contest effectively ended on April 10 when former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Romney’s closest rival in the delegate count, ended his campaign. By May 2, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was also out of the race.
Romney’s mathematical lock on the nomination comes later than that of any Republican candidate in 36 years. You have to go back to 1976, when California governor Ronald Reagan took his challenge to President Gerald Ford all the way to the Republican National Convention.
The Ron Paul Factor
This year, Texas Congressman Ron Paul remains officially in the running, even though he has fewer than 200 delegates and is no longer actively campaigning. Rumors persist that Paul’s backers may try to place his name in nomination at the Republican Convention. However, others say that Paul, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this session, is unlikely to try to disrupt Romney’s triumph.
Who Will Be the VP Pick?
In the meantime, Romney must select a running mate. Past candidates have often waited until just before the convention to name their vice-presidential choice—a time-honored device to pump up party enthusiasm for the big push to Election Day.
However, some Romney advisors have indicated that he might break with tradition and make his choice sooner. “You double your ability to campaign,” says one Republican official of having an early VP pick on the campaign trail, “[and] you double your ability to raise money.”
Romney’s list of potential running mates is a closely guarded secret. Much speculation has centered on Ohio senator Rob Portman, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and Florida senator Marco Rubio.
Romney might choose to improve his changes in the battleground state of Ohio by picking Portman. Or he could try to appeal to Hispanic voters by choosing the Cuban-American Rubio. That Florida is also seen as a key state in November might add to Rubio’s appeal. A number of other possible VP choices could offer similarly appealing scenarios.
A Close and Expensive Battle
Romney played down his recent delegate milestone, saying that he was honored and humbled by the achievement. Meanwhile, he has increased his fundraising efforts and attacks on Obama in what is shaping up to be a close and expensive battle for the November election.
From Texas, Romney flew to Las Vegas, where he met with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, who gave $20 million to a super PAC that backed Newt Gingrich, is now expected to support the Romney campaign.
Running in a Recession
“Whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity,” Romney declared following his Texas victory. His statement was bolstered by the Labor Department’s report that unemployment rose in May, the first such increase in almost a year.
The unemployment report comes amid other signs of a weakening economy, which polls show is voters’ main concern for the November election. The report and polls recall the elections of 1980 and 1992, when incumbents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush lost the White House as the nation struggled to emerge from recession.
“Romney Seals Republican Nomination With Victory in Texas” (Bloomberg.com)
“Slowdown Magnifies Job Numbers for Obama Race with Romney” (Bloomberg.com)