Michele Bachmann, we hardly knew ye. The Minnesota Congresswoman suspended her presidential campaign on Jan. 4 following a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucus the day before. “Suspending a campaign” is the political equivalent of quitting without actually admitting defeat.
The bigger story, however, was not Bachmann’s inevitable defeat – in her native state, no less. Nor was it Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry dismissing Iowa by, respectively, skipping the caucus altogether or afterward saying, “We’re going to go into places where they have actual primaries …”
No, the big story out of Iowa is the two-man race between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Santorum, thought long ago to be a dead duck in this Republican primary, has surged in the polls recently in the desperate ongoing search by Republicans to find an alternative to Romney. Santorum is now campaigning hard in New Hampshire, looking to pull off another “Iowa Surprise.” It will be to no avail.
Republicans have searched high and low for someone better than Romney to run as their presidential candidate. They have turned to a former pizza company CEO (and alleged sexual deviant), the Second Coming of Sarah Palin and to…um, uh…I can’t, I can’t remember now. The EPA? No, that’s not right. Oh yeah, Rick Perry. Even I was foolish enough to think Perry would win the primary. Oops.
Sorry, Republicans, but Romney will be your candidate for president of the United States.
Santorum could possibly be starting a monumental political comeback, but it is doubtful. Last week, a poll out of Suffolk University found Romney holding 41 percent of support in New Hampshire with Santorum holding only 8 percent. A NBC News poll later that week showed Romney with a 42 to 13 percent advantage over Santorum.
In a state that tends to lean blue rather than red, I would not expect Santorum to do well. While only registered Republicans are allowed to vote in a primary, Santorum has not been met with a warm reception. He was openly booed on Jan. 5 by attendees at a rally held at New England College. Santorum was immediately backed into a corner defending his beliefs about religion, gay rights and a controversial remark he earlier made about not wanting “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”
More liberal candidates, such as Romney and Romney Jr. (also known as Jon Huntsman), have a much better chance with the more moderate Republicans of New Hampshire.
Huntsman skipped Iowa completely in order to focus on New Hampshire. I would not be surprised if the former ambassador winds up pulling off a small surprise of his own. Some of his liberal tendencies, such as admitting humans contribute to climate change, a streamlined tax code plan and accepting a political position from President Barack Obama, should endear him to New Hampshire voters.
The great libertarian Ron Paul also stands a better chance of improving upon his already strong Iowa numbers than Santorum does. New Hampshire is not the “Live Free or Die” state for nothing. Paul believes his message of freedom will carry him far in New Hampshire.
While Paul might seem like a legitimate threat to Romney, voters will not be able to easily ignore his more eccentric tendencies. This includes, but is not limited to, Paul’s unwillingness to dismiss the large number of white supremacist and anti-government militia groups supporting his campaign.
Additionally, past publications bearing his name have included tirades against “urban youth who play whites like pianos.” That kind of talk will not go over well during the general election.
No, Paul is not a legitimate candidate either. That leaves just Huntsman and Romney. Problem is, a large number of you reading this right now have probably never heard of Huntsman until now. His campaign has garnered very little attention.
That just leaves Romney as the real contender. I suppose there is technically another option, but no one is going to seriously vote for a guy named Newt.
Whether Republicans like it or not, Romney is the logical choice. He is the only man who can legitimately contend with Obama in the general election. Iowa and New Hampshire are just the first signs of this reality.