Big win in Illinois primary propels Mitt Romney closer to GOP nomination
His win in the Illinois primary does not cement his status as eventual GOP nominee, but it certainly firms it up. The next primary, Saturday in Louisiana, does not favor Mitt Romney, but many of the April contests do.
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If Santorum fails to do well in Wisconsin – either winning outright or coming close, as he did in Michigan and Ohio – and then fails to win Pennsylvania, calls for him to exit the race are likely to escalate. Establishment Republicans, who tend to favor Romney, have been treading gingerly on the Santorum question, as they do not want to alienate conservative and evangelical Republicans. Turnout among that key demographic in November will be crucial for the party’s nominee.Skip to next paragraph
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In his victory speech Tuesday night, Romney spoke as the likely nominee, training his sights on Mr. Obama.
“It’s time to say this word: enough. We’ve had enough,” Romney said, speaking of Obama’s stewardship of the economy.
But his message could just as easily have applied to his Republican primary competitors – both Santorum and Gingrich, the former House speaker – who are increasingly seen as spoilers rather than as serious competitors for the nomination. Given the delegate math, their only scenario for victory involves depriving Romney of a majority of delegates before the convention in Tampa, Fla., forcing a contest there.
The history of modern contested conventions has not been kind to either party. Romney himself has said that if the nomination race goes all the way to Tampa, the effort to replace Obama will be doomed. Obama faces no challenge for the Democratic nomination, allowing him and his campaign to raise money and focus solely on the GOP while the Republicans continue to attack one another. Gingrich’s only statement to voters Tuesday night was a communiqué that did not congratulate Romney, instead going negative on his money advantage in the primaries.
“To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can’t nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1,” Gingrich said. “Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures.”
If Gingrich fails to do well in Louisiana, any path forward for his candidacy will have vanished, if it hasn’t already. His only two primary victories have been in South Carolina and Georgia.
Santorum signaled his commitment to Pennsylvania by delivering his remarks Tuesday night in Gettysburg – the setting of Illinois native son President Lincoln’s most famous address. In his remarks, Santorum emphasized his family’s immigrant, working-class roots in Pennsylvania.
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