“In an interview with RealClearPolitics on Thursday, Mitt Romney dismissed any possibility that Ron Paul might win the Republican nomination.

“‘Ron Paul’s not going to be our nominee,’ Romney said aboard his campaign bus, en route to a rally in Ames.”

“[Romney’s] decision to double down in Iowa has heightened the pressure to produce a strong showing just as polls are suggesting a surge by Representative Ron Paul of Texas, whose libertarian message appears to be resonating with many voters. A victory by Mr. Paul on Tuesday would test the ability of Mr. Romney’s advisers to spin a second-place result into a win for him.

“Even Mr. Romney seemed to recognize the futility of that public relations effort, should it come to that. Asked on Wednesday afternoon whether a second-place finish behind Mr. Paul would qualify as a victory, Mr. Romney was quick to answer.

“‘Uh, no,’ he said.”

“A Santorum surge, Erickson wrote, means Romney is likely to win the nomination.

“That prospect doesn’t bother King, who pointed to Romney’s ‘exemplary family life’ with his wife of 42 years and five sons. ‘He has more children and fewer vices than I have, so how can I criticize him?’ King said, in what could be viewed as an appeal to social conservatives to come to terms with Romney’s likely success. ‘I could do business with Mitt Romney. I could do business with any of these candidates.’

“Actually, there is one candidate whose foreign policy position troubles King far more than Romney’s waffling on abortion. Ron Paul advocates pulling all American troops out of foreign countries as part of a massive military disengagement. ‘That would be a calamity,’ King said. He also worries that a Paul victory in the Iowa caucuses would diminish the state’s status because the quirky libertarian is so unlikely to win the nomination.”

“The Paul candidacy is of course doomed. But the Paul vote won’t die. This vote has been building in the depths of the American political ocean since the spending spree of the second Bush term. These people see the upward spending trend in annual outlays and accumulated commitments not as a ‘problem,’ as the Beltway prefers, but as a threat to their well-being…

“[I]f the former Massachusetts governor doesn’t reach out pretty soon to the Paul-Perry-Bachmann Republican protest voters, he may never get them. The longer he waits, the more pressure will build for a third-party challenge that will cost him the election. That it would be led by a Ron Paul or Donald Trump is irrelevant to why these people would vote third party—or stay home.

“Mr. Romney is going to have to take a risk with some piece of his locked-down strategy—the RomneyCare denial, the ‘middle-class’ ceiling on his tax cut, naming a running mate who could have beaten him in the primaries.”

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a reassuring ‘unity photo’ from the Tampa convention showing Ron Paul joining the other also-rans lifting arms at the podium together with the victor who has beaten them. The more support angry voters provide to Paul protest candidacy the more inconceivable that image becomes, and the more likely the reelection of Obama and Biden.

“By far the best outcome for those who yearn above all to replace the Democrat in the White House would be to witness the rapid, well-deserved fizzle of the Paulian insurgency. This sort of quick collapse remains a distinct possibility—with a disappointing showing in Iowa followed by even more limited support that polls presently predict in the other early primary states. If Paul winds up with less than 10 percent of the national Republican vote, he would merit only an obscure position at the convention, reassuring the broader public that if you refuse to disavow support from open Nazis and unrepentant Ku Kluxers—as Dr. Paul explicitly refuses to do, in interviews recently with The New York Times and four years ago on my radio show—you will find no comfortable home in today’s Republican Party.

“Voters who might feel tempted to express discontent with the status quo by casting a ballot for Ron Paul during primary season still understand that backing him in any third party bid would bring disaster to the conservative cause; in the general election, it’s obvious that a vote for Ron Paul would amount to a vote for Barack Obama.”

“Here’s the point that I believe Henninger misses. ‘These people’ who are fuelling the Paul boomlet, and before that the Bachman/Perry/Cain/Gingrich boomlets, are not just the Republican protest vote. Since Obama has no Democrat rivals, there’s no real opportunity for a Democrat protest vote. The only way for Republicans and the unaffiliated middle-of-the-roader who voted for Obama in 2008 to show their opposition to Washington policies is the Republican primary. And who are they? They are the broad middle class who are unemployed or have family members, neighbors and friends who are losing their homes, their jobs and their hope for a better future while Washington lives it up on their dime…

“They are that virtual mob with pitchforks that are desperate to anoint someone as their leader who will help them storm the castle and evict the ogre holed up there. Mitt Romney doesn’t look like the kind of guy who is comfortable handling a pitchfork, but if he’s the last man standing after all the others fail, he’ll be appointed to that role.

“In 2008 the people went to the polls before the full impact of the financial melt-down had sunk in. They voted for Mr. HopeN’Change because they thought Obama didn’t really mean it when he promised to fundamentally change America. They though that they were electing a President who would fix the problems and set the country back on its accustomed course. The Three Years of Obama taught them just how wrong they were. HopeN’Change is now replaced by Change it Back. Obama is now viewed with fear and loathing. Those who did not like him now despise him and those who were on the fence are joining the opposition. Many see Obama as the ogre in the castle who has taken America hostage. The middle class is in danger of losing its grip on their part of the American Dream, and this time the mob with pitchforks is for real. That is the real meaning of the Paul vote.”

“Rep. Ron Paul’s surge in Iowa has triggered a theoretical question for his rivals this week: given his foreign policy views, would they be willing to support him over President Obama if he were the nominee? Newt Gingrich said ‘no,’ Mitt Romney said ‘yes.’ But it is also a kind of an intriguing gut check question for conservatives on how they balance foreign and domestic policy. Having thought about it over the last few days and debated it on Twitter for a bit last night, I’ve determined that I’d very begrudgingly back Obama in such a matchup.”

Via Breitbart TV.