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Can Mitt Romney carry his ‘Big Mo’ through Super Tuesday?

Mitt Romney is leading the GOP presidential pack in election wins, delegates, and nominations. But Super Tuesday and its ten contests – especially Ohio – could be the key to whether he keeps his momentum.

By Staff writer / March 4, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio Saturday, March 3. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday shows Romney and Rick Santorum dead even in Ohio going into Super Tuesday.

Gerald Herbert/AP

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Rolling up to the biggest set of presidential nominating contests so far – Super Tuesday with 10 states voting – Mitt Romney clearly has “Big Mo” on his side, that ephemeral momentum yearned for by anyone who’s ever run for office and seen their fortunes ebb and flow.

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He’s won five events in a row – Michigan, Arizona, Maine, Wyoming, and now Washington State. He’s ahead in the delegate count. And he’s picked up a long string of endorsements, most recently Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, a leading congressional conservative and number two Republican behind House Speaker John Boehner.

“What I have seen is a very hard-fought primary. And we have seen now that the central issue about the campaign now is the economy,” Cantor said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “I just think there’s one candidate in the case who can do that, and it’s Mitt Romney.”

To be sure, any assertion that Romney’s nomination is inevitable may be perched on wobbly legs.

Delegates won so far are a very small portion of the 1,144 needed to be nominated. (Romney has 180, Rick Santorum 90, Newt Gingrich 29, and Ron Paul 23.)

It’s hard to tout your congressional endorsements when you’re trying to distinguish yourself from “Washington insiders” Santorum and Gingrich. (Romney has 81 endorsements by lawmakers, Gingrich has 11, Santorum has 4, and Paul has 3.)

And as for his latest caucus victory in Washington State, it was strictly a straw poll in advance of the real delegation selection exercise, which comes later. And even then, as Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat put it, “There was some real passion on display at the GOP caucuses Saturday. Just not for the winner.”

But there’s no denying Romney’s Big Mo.

[Let us pause here for a point of political trivia: “Big Mo” is the phrase most closely associated with George H. W. Bush, who used it to crow a bit after he had won the Iowa caucuses in 1980. “Now they will be after me, howling and yowling at my heels,” he said. “What we will have is momentum. We will look forward to Big Mo being on our side, as they say in athletics.” Bush may have had Big Mo at that point, but he had to settle for second place when Ronald Reagan won the nomination and then the presidency.]

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