Via Mediaite, a quote: “It is entirely possible a loser candidate will get the nomination… We may end up with milquetoast as a nominee.” I don’t get it. Who could he mean?

In possibly related news, Team Mitt is ready for a long, hard slog to the nomination:

Much will depend on the still-unsettled primary calendar and the eventual field of candidates. But the former Massachusetts governor’s aim, according to multiple aides and advisers, is to exceed expectations his team is working feverishly to lower in Iowa, to come back strong with a win in New Hampshire, to survive South Carolina in part by picking up an off-setting victory in Nevada and then to settle in for what many described as “a slog” that they’ll emerge from thanks to superior money and organization.

Should Florida come after the first four contests, Romney supporters are hopeful he could score an important win in what would be the first large primary state. Yet they aren’t envisioning a 2008-like scenario where John McCain effectively wrapped up the nomination by notching a Florida victory…

”This will be about who won the most delegates,” said Stuart Stevens, one of Romney’s top strategists, adding that the rules of presidential primaries are always being re-written. “After the campaign we’ll look back and think the path to victory was whatever the winner did.”…

”You can see a scenario where different guys win the first four or five states,” said one of Romney’s leading fundraisers.

Democrats did a good job of unifying the party after The One’s long hard slog to victory over Hillary in the primaries three years ago, but that was an easy task. Obama and Clinton were basically indistinguishable on policy (apart from his, er, opposition to a universal health-care mandate); there might have been a crisis among the anti-war base if Hillary, with her Iraq voting record, had beaten Obama for the nomination, but Dems ended up not having to face that scenario. What happens, though, if Romney and a tea-party favorite like Palin end up in a similar primary duel to the death all the way into the summer and he prevails? Will tea partiers be able to stomach voting for the man responsible for RomneyCare the way Hillary Democrats were able to stomach Obama, even after a long, bitter battle? Conversely, if Palin prevails, will establishment Republicans be able to stomach a grassroots favorite as nominee? I think there’s a higher risk of post-convention bitterness on our side this time than there was with Democrats if we end up with a long war between an establishment favorite and a tea party favorite. If the dynamics somehow end up differently — like, say, a Romney vs. Pawlenty death struggle or a contest between two tea-party types — then it’s less of an issue.

Note that Rush says several times here that the campaign next year has to be about Obama and his record. That’s the key to minimizing any weaknesses in the GOP candidate: Keep the spotlight on The One and flaws in the Republican will be overlooked in part. Later, though, he says:

Whoever in this field takes it to Obama the straightest and the hardest and the most direct, is who’s gonna win. They’re gonna have to take it to Obama. This isn’t a ‘pussy-foot around’ type of election. This is not, ‘Oh, we’ve got to worry about what they’re gonna say about us, we’ve got to worry about PR, about charges of racism.’ Somebody’s got to be willing to take it to Obama. It’s going to be about him and four more years of this stuff and we’ll see if there’s anybody in this field willing to do that.

How does that shake out in trying to decide between, say, Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann? Bachmann’s the fearless bombthrower who’ll take it to Obama, but she’s also much, much more easily kookified by the media. T-Paw, meanwhile, might not throw any roundhouses, but there won’t be much Democrats can do to make him seem unelectable. If you’re trying to make the election a referendum on Obama, which is the correct pick?