One less candidate

4/12/2012

Republicans looking to wrest the White House from President Barack Obama are one step closer to agreeing on a candidate. On Tuesday, Rick Santorum withdrew from the GOP campaign. The surprise announcement added one more twist in a primary contest in which the GOP faithful have been looking for anybody but Mitt Romney.

Santorum's departure effectively means that most everybody but Romney has dropped out of the race. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain on the trail, yet have met with little success thus far. That doesn't appear likely to change between now and the August convention.

And so, former Massachusetts governor Romney is the apparent nominee who will take on Obama this fall. Unless the party rallies behind Romney, the November election could be one of the most lopsided contests in recent memory.

Even with campaign staff ready to draw a new Romney on their Etch-a-Sketch, the presumptive nominee will have his work cut out for him. Santorum couldn't bring himself to mention Romney by name during Tuesday's press conference, let alone offer an endorsement. It has, after all, been only a few weeks since Santorum called Romney "the worst Republican in the country" to challenge Obama.

And Gingrich still claims he can win the nomination.

"It's very clear that Romney does not, today, have the majority of the delegates," Gingrich said Wednesday.

The former House speaker technically is correct, but he would have to win 94 percent of the remaining delegates to do so. Given his showing thus far, that seems unlikely. His finances don't appear solid enough to even come close. Earlier this week, officials in Utah reported a $500 check from the Gingrich team needed to get on that state's primary ballot bounced.

Paul, notwithstanding his campaign's claims he is "the last -- and real -- conservative alternative" to Romney, has even less of a chance. He's committed to fighting Romney through the convention as well.

Both candidates should do the honorable -- and drop out of the contest. The longer these charades continue, the less time Romney will have to concentrate on Obama. Romney will have a better chance if he's not being stung consistently by fellow party members throwing barbs his way.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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