“Mitt Romney’s campaign gathered the national press corps in their campaign war room this morning to deliver a simple message: It would take an ‘act of God’ for any candidate not named Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination…
“Looking ahead to a primary calendar where the only remaining true winner-take-all states appear to favor Romney — Delaware, Utah, New Jersey and the District of Columbia (where Rick Santorum is not on the ballot) — the advisers tried to slowly close the door on Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who they said had little to no opportunity left to close the delegate gap…
“Taken together, the campaign hopes math, if not ideology, will help their candidate consolidate a Republican base still resistant to his nomination in some quarters.”
“If Romney were to stumble and win only a third of the delegates in the remaining states, Santorum would have to win more than half of all the delegates in order to pull ahead, meaning that Gingrich and Paul together would have to be held below 16 percent. To date, not even counting Romney’s blowout in Massachusetts, Romney has won nearly half of the delegates while Santorum has won about one-fourth. That means the only path to Romney losing requires Santorum to double his past haul, while Romney drops by about 70 percent. That’s not likely.
“Barring some disaster, Romney’s worst-case scenario is that he finishes first, but a bit short of the 1,144-delegate absolute majority, thus needing to pick up a handful of Santorum, Paul or Gingrich delegates. That would not be a pretty way to win, but it would be a win.”
“Consider this: if Mitt wins every remaining all-or-nothing state but one, and half of the remaining proportional delegates, he would likely still fall short of the magic nomination number of 1,144—which would force him to rely on unpledged delegates, the Republican version of the infamous Democratic super-delegates in 2008, to claim his party’s mantle…
“[T]he delegate math shows that the earliest this contest could be over is May — and the latest, Utah in late June or even August in Tampa.
“Unless Santorum, Gingrich, or Paul can be prematurely pressured out, this contest will go on. Momentum drives the story line, but math drives the delegate count, and that may be all that matters in this year’s proportional fight for the Republican nomination.”
“Mitt Romney’s five-year-long hostile takeover bid for the Republican Party — and the presidency — enters its next grinding phase Wednesday with a spin session for reporters in Boston designed to convince them that his nomination is inevitable…
“If he doesn’t complete the LBO by June, Romney will appeal to what’s left of the party establishment to help him. He can cut deals in lots of directions, a process similar to bringing other investors into a difficult transaction that takes more cash than originally envisioned.
“Consider the calculations for one rival. It’s easier to see Gingrich doing a deal with Romney than with Santorum. What does Santorum have to offer, psychic and philosophical gratification? Mitt can offer Newt stock and a seat on the board.”
“‘I don’t see these guys getting out,’ admitted Kerry Healey, Romney’s former lieutenant governor, when asked what the obvious inflection point would be for the race to come to a close.
“‘We will turn slogging into an art form,’ cracked another adviser.
“‘Maybe May?’ ventured a senior Romney official about when the race may end.
“If Super Tuesday had produced a more convincing result, the hope among some in Romney’s orbit was to nail down the nomination by winning the Illinois primary later this month.
“That scenario seems unlikely now.”
“Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney ‘clearly’ had a triumphant night on Super Tuesday, but his six wins were ‘maybe not enough’ for someone who wants to win the presidency, GOP Sen. John McCain told ‘Face the Nation’ anchor Bob Schieffer on ‘Face to Face.’
“‘The longer this goes out, the worse our chances are,’ McCain said of the Republican primary. ‘I have to tell you, it makes me very worried about our chances to win in November.'”
“‘We’re never going to call on anybody to get out, but what we are calling is on Tea Party supporters and conservatives is to rally behind the only candidate that has demonstrated over and over again that he’s the one who can compete against Mitt Romney,’ [Santorum strategist John] Brabender said.
“‘The real key right now is, can we get an opportunity to get a one-on-one shot with Mitt Romney,’ he said. ‘What we found is, Gingrich did a nice job in his home state, but I don’t even think he had a second place anywhere else … It’s time for conservatives to say ‘Look, we’re going to rally behind one candidate, Rick Santorum.'”
“One thing I can tell you for sure, there’s not going to be a brokered convention, where some new person comes in and becomes the nominee. It’s going to be one of the four people that are still running.”