Newt Gingrich confirms with this statement what everybody already knew: His purpose in the race at this point is less to secure the nomination himself (or even to spearhead a movement, like Ron Paul) than to thwart Mitt Romney. Same ol’ story:
Gingrich told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he won’t get out of the race until former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) – who Gingrich described as “the weakest frontrunner in modern times” — secures the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the GOP nomination.
“I think the morning that he gets 1,144 that are locked down, then I think he can claim to be the nominee,” Gingrich said. …
“Obviously, if (Romney) becomes the nominee, I will support him. . . . If he doesn’t win the nomination, then it’s going to be wide open and then we’re going to have a conversation for those 60 days,” he said, referring to the length of time between the last nominating contest in June and the national convention in August.
Asked about Santorum’s viability in the race, Gingrich responded that “he doesn’t have a guaranteed lock any more than I do or Mitt Romney does.”
Is it even feasible to stop Romney anymore, though? The day after the Mississippi and Alabama primaries, The Examiner’s Tim Carney wrote an excellent piece that asked the question, “Can the non-Mitts improve by 17 percent?” According to the delegate math at that point, the non-Romneys had to win at least 55 percent of the remaining delegates to stop Romney from securing the nomination. As Carney pointed out, that might not sound like a lot, especially divided among three candidates — but it required them to perform better than they had up to that point. Up until March 14, the non-Romneys had won just 44 percent of the vote.
So, what has happened since then? Missouri began its caucus process — but we won’t know the exact results until June. Romney won Puerto Rico and Illinois. Rick Santorum won Louisiana. Not bad for the non-Mitts, eh? Actually, it is. Romney took 70 of 91 delegates, which means the non-Mitts took just 21 or about 23 percent of the available delegates. That’s a far cry from the 55 percent they need to capture to stop Mitt.
What whiplash I have from my own opinions about this race! One day, I want the challengers out so I can attempt to reconcile myself to Romney. The next day, like today, I sympathize with the challengers. As I wrote this morning, it is perplexing that we’ll mostly likely end this eventful primary season by selecting for ourselves a candidate who, as Rick Santorum says, is “uniquely disqualified” to hit Obama where it hurts — on Obamacare. Probably I feel that way today because, with the hearings on Capitol Hill, I’m reminded of the many weaknesses of Obamacare.
For all that I might be able to sympathize with Santorum and Gingrich on the substance of the race, the reality still is as it was: Mitt Romney will in all likelihood be the nominee.