“OK, I’ll concede that contest is getting close to over as well. Mitt Romney will almost certainly be the GOP nominee. Rick Santorum is entitled to stay in the race, and to offer voters in the remaining states an alternative. But it’s probably time for him to do what Mike Huckabee did in similar circumstances in 2008—basically to stop attacking the almost inevitable nominee, and instead to adjust his own message going forward to a positive and issues-based one.
“For his part, Romney is entitled to savor a hard-earned victory. But not for long. He needs to begin to figure out how to win the general election. In a way, the remaining two months of primaries is a great opportunity for Romney. On the surface, he can go through the motions of finishing up the nomination campaign, using his current team and delivering his familiar message. It will look like business as usual. But beneath the surface, Romney should be quietly but purposefully developing a new and much improved business plan for the fall. Absent adjustment, Romney’s effort to unseat the incumbent president now feels destined to recapitulate the losing efforts of Bob Dole in 1996 or John Kerry in 2004. But the good news is that Romney is cold-blooded and hardheaded. He didn’t put himself through all this to run a respectable losing general election race. He may be more willing and able than most politicians to change his team, to challenge conventional thinking, and to invite fresh ideas for the conduct and strategy of his fall campaign.”
“Eleven months and several rival campaign meltdowns later, Romney is widely viewed as the presumptive GOP nominee. The campaign touts his consistency, the fact that he has repeatedly drawn valid distinctions between the Massachusetts and federal laws and never wavered in his opposition to the president’s signature accomplishment. ‘Every time the issue of health care was front and center, he made it very clear where he stood,’ said Kevin Madden, a Romney adviser. ‘Because of that, it was an issue he successfully navigated in the primary.’
“Romney’s critics, however, offer an alternative explanation for his success at burying his health care record.
“‘People have certainly had the opportunity to hear that Romneycare was the basis for Obamacare, and he still won a lot of primaries. That says something,’ said Chris Chocola, president of the conservative Club for Growth. ‘I think what it says is that there wasn’t a compelling alternative.’
“In other words, Romney prevailed over his health care record not because he built such a persuasive case that it differed from Obama’s, but because he faced lame competitors who failed to build a strong case against him.”
“Tonight on CNN, Robert Ehrlich, Mitt Romney’s Maryland campaign chair, suggested that voters — particularly women — would not be exposed to Romney’s ‘real views’ until the general election. Ehrlich said that once women ‘see’ Romney’s ‘real views,’ the gender gap between him and President Obama would dissipate.”
“‘The Republican establishment — I’ve yet to meet a single person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election this year,’ Scarborough continued. ‘They won’t say it on TV because they’ve got to go on TV and they don’t want people writing them nasty emails. I obviously don’t care. But I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment that worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican congress, that worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election.'”
Click the image to listen.