ANOTHER snapshot in the 2012 presidential race was taken Tuesday and Mitt Romney seems to be developing into the clear favorite in the narrowing Republican field.
Romney was expected to do well in the New Hampshire primary. He didn't disappoint. To pundits, Romney's finish was of less interest than was the race for this week's latest Not Romney.
Romney has gone from perceived front-runner to presumptive nominee as divisions within the party are starting to dissolve. The White House is preparing for November not so much to run against the Republican nominee, whoever he might be, but to run against Mitt Romney. And Romney is likewise preparing for November.
Unfortunately, he must do a lot of preparation before then. A race that has come down to the big four — Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — needs to quickly reach the big one.
Romney clearly has the best chance of beating Barack Obama. It's foolish to think that any of the four besides Romney, tried and tested as they are by the primary season, could beat this president.
That doesn't mean they will go quietly. Indeed most of the pack had begun focusing on the next stop, the Jan. 21 primary in South Carolina, before the votes were counted in New Hampshire. The assaults on Romney continued apace Wednesday, with Gingrich hammering on Romney's former venture capitalist days. Gingrich also tried to appeal to the GOP's ideological base, saying he would fight “anti-Christian bigotry.”
That strategy may win some voters, but most Americans are concerned first and foremost about jobs and the economy.
Job No.1 for voters is to oust a man who hasn't made jobs his No. 1 priority. Romney would. South Carolina Republicans can help put an end to a protracted, financially draining race by recognizing Romney's obvious advantages in electability. Those voters — and others in upcoming primaries and caucuses — could send a signal to the other candidates that it's time to put the country ahead of their campaigns.
Whatever attacks they mount should be aimed at Obama, not each other. They aren't running for an open seat. Obama has all the power of the incumbency at his disposal.
The GOP nominee needs all the resources he can marshal to beat this president. On this score Romney has a clear advantage over the rest of the GOP field. His campaign says it had raised $56 million through Dec. 31, and has more than $19 million in cash on hand.
He needs to be able to start using that against Obama now rather than later.