Today, John Huntsman recognized reality and, after lackluster showings, withdrew from the GOP primary. What was unexpected, however, is his endorsement of Romney, a man that just days prior he said wasn’t fit to be President. It’s also no secret that Romney and Huntsman don’t really care for each other. So what gives? Simply put, Huntsman is playing his cards once again for 2016. The endorsement isn’t so much of Romney as it is of the GOP political establishment and elite that are chomping at the bit for Mitt’s coronation to be over and done with. Huntsman is likely hoping that this act of fealty and deference will win him some support from party insiders next time around. Unfortunately, it’s also sorely disappointing. I can’t be the only one thinking it.
Just a few things about Iowa.
- It was hilarious to watch people say that Iowa only matters if the “right” person wins. Most of them were actively talking about Ron Paul as the “wrong” person. The logical contortions required to take this position, that the result dictates the relevancy of the result, are astounding at best.
- Speaking of Ron Paul, he didn’t exactly “lose”. He scored as many delegates as Romney and Santorum and got more supporters elected to party positions than the other folks. He has a lot of caucus state ground game, and that matters when the “real” delegates get selected.
- Rick Santorum is the new Mike Huckabee. He pandered to evangelicals, has no money or ground game outside of Iowa, and will likely fade out after a few more states. I give him no longer than Super Tuesday before he drops out after many dismal showings. The idea that a good showing in a single early state can create momentum is laughable at best. There’s 49 other states, dude, and you’ve done nothing in any of them.
- Romney is calling this a “win”, but let’s consider a few facts. He’s been more-or-less campaigning constantly since at least 2007, spent a crapton of money, and won by just 8 votes over a guy who can’t come up with a campaign message beyond “I hate gay sex and abortions”. To have such a dismal showing in a state where ground game matters should be considered an unmitigated disaster. Consider that Romney has been stuck at a 25%-ish ceiling for most of the race and is counting on a crowded field to split up the Not Romney vote. Bachmann has just dropped out and Perry isn’t far behind. If Gingrinch continues to tank and Santorum falters, that can put a quarter or more of the vote back on the table, or roughly the entirety of Romney’s support. This should be scaring the crap out his campaign and supporters, but they seem to take for granted that Mitt can just coast to victory.
Note: This is not a post on whether or not you agree with Rep. Paul’s policies. It is only about the viability of his candidacy, so let’s keep the comments on-topic, please. Any discussion on policies should be through the lens of the primary voters he needs to court.
The current field of Republican candidates for president largely leaves a lot to be desired. The field is crowded with a lot of candidates with little public recognition or differentiation from their competition. Heck, we even have a few political has-beens that got run out of their previous elected positions trying to make a go for it. I think most of them will get shaken out, but it may create a situation where it comes down to Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.