Former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan says current front-runner Mitt Romney basically has the nomination in the bag.
“It’s almost over,” he told The Hill
in an interview. “If Romney wins New Hampshire and wins it pretty well, I don’t know anybody who’s won the first two who’s gone on to lose the nomination. And looking at the rest of the field, who’s going to beat him at this point?”
Buchanan was an insurgent himself, capturing the 1996 New Hampshire primary before coming up short against establishment candidate Bob Dole. But he said he doesn’t see much hope for Rick Santorum. The former Pennsylvania senator rode a wave of late support in the Iowa caucuses this week to nearly topple Romney.
“I don’t think he’s going to beat Mitt Romney,” Buchanan said. “If Romney wins 35 percent [in New Hampshire], who’s going to be able to say he didn’t meet expectations? He wins Iowa when he wasn’t favored initially, and wins New Hampshire.”
Buchanan says Santorum has a “much bigger hill to climb” in New Hampshire than he did, because he didn’t have to worry about the conservative competition that Santorum faces.
“What Santorum, Gingrich and Perry all wanted desperately was a one-on-one ‘me and Mitt’ showdown,” Buchanan said. “Santorum has Newt [Gingrich] up there, [Jon] Huntsman betting everything on the state, Ron Paul, and now [Rick] Perry won’t drop out. They’re siphoning off all these pools of voters who are going for the guy running against the front-runner.”
Buchanan said Santorum should put more emphasis on economic issues to challenge Romney in the Granite State.
“They all know he’s the social conservative. They’ve gotten the message on that,” Buchanan said.
“I’d hammer on the fact that the middle and working class are the people that have been shafted. ... I’d just go hardline American working class and middle class: ‘These aren’t the folks who got bailed out, everyone in Middle America is paying the price.’ I’d talk that message of the Occupy [Wall Street] guys that there is inequality. The people of New Hampshire love that, and the argument has the ancillary benefit of being right.”
Meanwhile, another Buchanan – Bay Buchanan, who served on President Ronald Reagan’s campaign staff and as U.S. Treasurer – endorsed Romney on Friday, The Hill
“If Americans want a real conservative in the White House, they need to look no farther than Mitt Romney,” she said in a statement.
“These few years of President Obama’s failed leadership have weakened our country across the board. We need a president who will immediately reverse Obamacare, stop Washington’s out-of-control spending and finally secure our borders. Mitt Romney is the man who will actually get these things done. America simply can’t take another four years of Barack Obama.”
Not surprisingly, Romney is grateful for the support. “It’s an honor to have the support of a stalwart conservative like Bay,” he said in a statement. “From her time working closely with Ronald Reagan through today, she has been a consistent and clear voice for conservative values.
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