Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Over Bar the Shouting As Romney Now Has Momentum If Not A Mandate

With Mitt Romney's overwhelming victory in Illinois yesterday, it's all over bar the shouting -- and we still can expect plenty from his erstwhile opponents and their surrogates.

And so after a nearly three-month roller coaster ride through primaries and caucuses where Romney was often upstaged but continued to quietly rack up delegates, the Republican Party finally has a presumptive nominee, but while he is the only man in the once-crowded field who has a chance of beating President Obama, he is viewed with disdain if not downright horror by many party faithful while running the most lackluster presidential campaign in recent memory.

The story line going into the delegate-rich Illinois primary was that Santorum would do well in the Land of Lincoln and a brokered convention was a real possibility. Some polls did show the former Massachusetts governor and former U.S. Senator neck and neck and the conventional wisdom, which has been wrong so often this political season, noted that beyond Chicago and the affluent suburbs the state is Santorum conservative.

But when the last vote was counted, Romney had clobbered Santorum by a 47-35 percentage point margin, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul once again also-rans, and for the first time this year he had something that his campaign had sorely lacked: Momentum with a generally favorable schedule of future primaries, yet it is momentum without a mandate.

* * * * *
In an exquisite if entirely unintended sense of timing, Representative Paul Ryan rolled out the GOP's new budget plan as Illinois voters were coronating Romney.

The plan reneges on the deal that Republicans had hammered out with Democrats during the debt ceiling imbroglio while pretty much destroying Medicare and Medicaid, lowering the top marginal tax rate, eliminating all taxes on foreign profits, and kneecaps spending on social programs and research and development.

No surprise there, but this is the plan that Romney will have to not just live with, but defend, even as he slithers back toward the more moderate center from the hard right-wing views he has espoused.

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