GOP candidates "commence the world" and head west

Who knows who actually said, “Go west, young man”? The quote is sometimes attributed to Horace Greeley, who did write something similar in an 1838 edition of the newspaper New Yorker. “If any young man is about to commence the world, we say to him, publicly and privately, ‘Go to the West,'” Greeley penned.

Whether the GOP candidates qualify as “young men” is another subject for debate, but, by running for president, they’re certainly seeking to “commence the world,” albeit in a different sense than Greeley meant it. The presidency is as “real” as “the real world” gets. There’s no escaping the problems of the planet as president, that’s for sure, even though our present president tries.

In their quest to capture the most powerful office in the world, they’re taking Greeley’s advice: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich all headed West today. WaPo provides the round-up:

Mitt Romney is holding an evening rally in Mesa, Ariz., ahead of the Feb. 28 primary there. Four years ago, Romney lost the state to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who took 47 percent to Romney’s 35 percent. But this time around, the Romney camp is confident about the state, which awards 29 delegates.

Newt Gingrich is campaigning Monday in California, holding events in South El Monte and Pasadena. The Golden State, which has 172 delegates, doesn’t hold its primary until June, which might make one wonder why Gingrich is spending time there now when the Super Tuesday races loom. (His camp is likely smarting over a National Review editorial out Monday morning urging Gingrich to step aside to make way for a Romney- Rick Santorum contest.)

Santorum, who on Sunday called Romney’s attacks on his record “desperate,” is spending the day out in Tacoma, Wash. He plans an evening rally in the state, which holds its caucuses on March 3 and awards 43 delegates.

Romney does look to be strong in Arizona, where Santorum has little organization. The primary is still a couple weeks away, so perhaps that will change, but the Santorum campaign hasn’t given much indication the former Pennsylvania senator intends to compete there. Instead, Santorum said after last week’s trifecta that his next push would be in Ohio and Michigan. His efforts in Michigan already appear to be paying off. Santorum might be smart to skip Arizona. The primary is winner-take-all and, in the most recent Rasmussen poll in the state, Santorum is running a very distant third. Twenty-nine delegates are quite a few to give up without any fight at all — but it might be better to sacrifice those 29 rather than waste resources in the state only to lose the delegates to Romney anyway.

Washington is a better fit for Santorum. Voters there have demonstrated their willingness to support socially conservative candidates. In the 2008 Washington caucuses, they boosted the socially conservative Mike Huckabee to a close second place finish — although John McCain ultimately swept the later primary.

Meanwhile, Gingrich’s seemingly strategically strange decision to focus on California actually makes the most sense of all: He needs money and he’s hitting up the Golden State to get some.