Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It didn't take until 2:45 a.m...(UPDATED AT BOTTOM)

...to determine that Mitt Romney had made another stride toward securing the Republican presidential nomination.

In fact, within one minute of the polls closing in New Hampshire, the mainstream media announced that the former Massachusetts governor had won there. About 30 minutes later, Mr. Romney took to the podium and unleashed a familiar theme -- look past the primaries and toward the general election.

Mr. Romney thus delivered a verbal attack on President Obama, saying, "He wants to turn America into a European-style welfare state...this president takes his inspiration from the capitals in Europe."

By contrast, Mr. Romney suggested he will return America to smaller government, financial responsibility, a strong military and unceasing support of Israel. In all of these areas, he argued the president is failing.

Considering that I spent about an hour today at the European Union offices in Washington, Mr. Romney's remarks about a socialist-style Europe crossing the shore and taking root in America amused me. Yes, he was attempting to provide red meat to the people in the audience and those watching at home; nevertheless, the rhetoric was empty. Pathetic, too.

Let's be clear, Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have a difference of opinion about the role of government in our country. Nevertheless to suggest that this president is endorsing socialism is specious.

Now, a larger question about his victory: Does it suggest the Republican race is over?

As you consider an answer, keep in mind that every Republican who has won the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary has won the GOP nomination.

The GOP field stood at six people before tonight, but before the end of the week it could be down to four. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman banked on a strong showing in New Hampshire to move his campaign forward. However, he will finish a distant third and with no momentum. He could be heading for the exit.

So too could former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He will finish fourth or fifth (with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum finishing in the other spot), suggesting that his message -- whatever it might be -- is not clicking.

Recognizing that Mr. Santorum has little money and stalling momentum, he will struggle to keep up with the former Massachusetts governor. The same is true for Texas governor Rick Perry, who is going to finish last in New Hampshire.

Putting that calculus together, Romney looks like the sure-fire winner of the nomination. Texas Rep. Ron Paul will stick around, but he is not going to win despite his assertion to his supporters tonight that "there is no way to stop the momentum we have started."

Later, he sarcastically noted that he and his followers were a danger. "We are dangerous to the status quo of this country," he said.

That might be true, but he's not a danger to Mr. Romney.

1st UPDATE: 9:27 p.m. EST: Yes, I recognize that campaign officials for Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Gingrich suggest that they are heading to South Carolina, where the next primary will be held on Jan. 21. But their candidates have no realistic chance at this point of making an impact. I stand by that statement.

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