The Republican Party’s duality was in sharp relief this weekend -- its almost-to-distraction fervor to defeat President Obama and its already-to-distraction discontent with the standard-bearer currently best positioned to do so.
The party has essentially chosen its nominee. He’s tall, handsome, well-coiffed, has a lot of dough, and keeps scooping up more. On Sunday, one of the few remaining challengers he has not yet officially vanquished essentially conceded the nomination was his.
"I think you have to be realistic,” Newt Gingrich said of Mitt Romney on Fox News Sunday. “Given the size of his organization, given the number of primaries he's won, he is far and away the most likely Republican nominee.”
And, yet … Ohio Gov. John Kasich, over on Meet the Press, did not even come close to predicting a Romney win in the swinging Buckeye State and, in fact, pegged as pivotal some of the very voters Kasich himself has peeved in looking to curtail collective bargaining: “those independent voters.”
Kasich and Gingrich are both representative of the wings of the party that have hounded Romney throughout this campaign (and the last one, too). It’s a mark of the oddity of this election that those who want someone to beat Obama the most are those who have to decide whether they can settle for anyone.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Signs That Rick Santorum is Not Quitting
[National Journal, 4/9/12] Even as the GOP race winds down, Santorum is still hanging on by his fingernails, as National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes. The former Pennsylvania senator beefed up what was a thin campaign schedule this week in the Keystone State.
Obama Camp Brings Back Romney's Tax Records in a Major Way
[Talking Points Memo, 4/9/12] As the nomination seems within Romney's grasp, the Obama campaign is launching a multi-pronged effort to highlight the GOP front-runner's 13.9 percent tax rate, demand close to two dozen years of additional returns, and request more information about his foreign assets.
Romney Camp Pulls Ad While Santorum Daughter Is Hospitalized
[Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/9/12] Mitt Romney's presidential campaign told stations across Pennsylvania to pull until further notice a television ad targeting fellow Republican candidate Rick Santorum while Santorum's daughter is ill, but apparently recovering. The approximately $2.9 million ad buy was slated to begin airing on Monday morning and was to focus on Santorum’s record as senator and his loss in 2006. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item inaccurately described the size of Romney's ad buy.
Path for Romney Getting Clearer
[Wall Street Journal, 4/8/12] The fight for the nomination appeared closer to a conclusion as Newt Gingrich on Sunday all but conceded to Romney, and Santorum continued to face a money shortage in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he has two weeks to make a last stand before the primary.
How Much Did Gingrich Campaign Hurt Santorum?
[Bloomberg, 4/9/12] The biggest what-if scenario of Santorum’s presidential bid is whether an exit by Gingrich weeks ago would have allowed the former senator from Pennsylvania to overtake front-runner Romney. The answer? We’ll probably never know.
It's 'Game On' in Chicago
[BuzzFeed, 4/8/12] A year after officially launching, the Obama campaign is feeling good about their chances in November. And through their highly digitized staff and vast resources, the campaign is building a network of volunteers to battle Romney in the fall. But is the campaign too confident?
Obama Job Approval Ratings Up in March
[National Journal, 4/9/12] President Obama's job approval rating went up slightly in March, averaging at 46 percent according to Gallup polls. That's only one percentage point higher than his averages from January and February, though.
Romney: Rivals Don’t Stand Much of a Chance
[National Journal, 4/9/12] As the first guest on Mike Huckabee’s new radio show, Romney said what everybody else seems to be thinking: his rivals aren’t quitting yet, but they don’t stand much of a chance. The latest Associated Press count – more than twice that of second-place Santorum, who has 281.
Romney Moves in For Pennsylvania Kill Shot
[National Journal, 4/9/12] Romney’s two-week, multibillion-dollar TV ad buy in Pennsylvania erases any remaining doubt that the frontrunner is playing to win Santorum’s home state, and it makes clear that he sees the Keystone State’s April 24 primary as a chance to unequivocally end the GOP race.
Super PAC, Eyeing General Election, Aims Blitz at Obama
[New York Times, 4/8/12] The biggest of the Republican super PACs, American Crossroads, is planning this month to begin its first major anti-Obama advertising blitz of the year. With more than $200 million in the bank, officials said they would focus the bulk of the first phase during the critical period of May through July.
A Living Autopsy of the Ron Paul Campaign
[New York Times, 4/9/12] As the GOP primary season winds down, Ron Paul remains mostly an afterthought -- electorally. But by most other yardsticks, Paul has far exceeded the accomplishments of his 2008 campaign, perhaps reflecting how much the mood of the country has shifted.
Gingrich Admits Debt, Continues Campaign in N.C.
[USA Today, 4/9/12] Gingrich heads today to North Carolina, a day after admitting he has chipped in some of his own money to help his debt-ridden campaign. He conceded on Sunday that he is $4.5 million in the red and has donated “a little bit” of his own money.
Richard Land Asks Santorum to End His Campaign
[National Journal, 4/8/12] Evangelical leader Richard Land on Sunday urged Santorum to exit the race and save face for a future White House run.
Both Parties Wooing Seniors
[Wall Street Journal, 4/8/12] Obama and Democrats are counting on regaining support from older voters who switched to the GOP in 2008 and 2010 by attacking Republican plans to revamp Medicare. But Romney is proving to be a formidable competitor in this battle -- he’s running ahead of Obama among seniors in some crucial swing states.
Cardinal Dolan: Mormon Faith No Reason to Vote Against Romney
[National Journal, 4/8/12] “There may be reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney as president of the United States,” Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of the New York diocese, said during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation. “That he’s a Mormon cannot be one of them.”
Is Romney Damaged Goods After a Brutal Primary Season?
[Daily Beast, 4/8/12] Romney seems to be the suitor his party doesn’t quite want, blamed for the party’s failure to win women and Hispanics, caricatured for his flip-flops, and facing an uphill struggle to build a winning coalition. But as Eleanor Clift writes, Romney may be in better shape than Bill Clinton in 1992 or Ronald Reagan in 1980.
A Reflection on Santorum’s Quixotic, Historic Bid
[National Review, 4/8/12] Santorum was a C-list Fox News pundit and damaged-goods former senator when he announced his improbable candidacy last year, and many politicos expected him to join the ranks of failed vanity campaigns like Arlen Specter in ’96 or Milton Shapp in ‘76. A retrospective from NRO’s Robert Costa.
Connecticut Shaping Up as Big Victory for Romney
[Connecticut Day, 4/9/12] The last uncertainty for Connecticut Republicans is not whether Mitt Romney will win the state's presidential primary on April 24, but by how large a margin. The state will award 25 of its 28 delegates proportionally in the primary contest.