While Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is expected to rack up an easy win in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, that doesn’t mean his path to the nomination will suddenly get easier, Politico
Not one delegate has been awarded, and there are no winner-take-all primaries for delegates until April. So it’s conceivable that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will stay in the race for the long haul, even if their results aren’t stellar.
Ron Paul won’t exit the race anytime soon, and a strong performance in New Hampshire by Jon Huntsman could keep him in the mix too.
“If one candidate carries all three [leadoff] states and does so comfortably, obviously you’d rather be in the position where you are that candidate,” David Norcross, a former Republican National Committee general counsel, told Politico.
“Still, the delegate count question probably sticks around, maybe through February, because they’re just not going to accumulate a lot of delegates. They’re going to accumulate a lot of attention, a lot of publicity. But they’re not going to be accumulating delegates.”
While the nomination is clearly Romney’s to lose at this point, he hasn’t shown himself to be a sure thing yet. He hasn’t exceeded 30 percent support in recent national polls of the GOP contenders. Clearly the former Massachusetts governor has a long, hard road ahead of him.
The Romney team fears former House Speaker Gingrich most, according to Politico. “There’s a [concern] that, unlike everyone else, Newt really does think he has nothing else to lose,” a Romney supporter told the news service. “Newt could become his own IE [independent expenditure committee].”
Romney adviser and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu admits a victory by Romney in his state carries limited value. “Because of the new rules, it’ll take a long time” to lock up the nomination, he told Politico. “You can hang on 'til June if you want to, as long as you can fly yourself to the debates.”
Some Republicans see value in a protracted race. “Hillary’s continuing to fight didn’t seem to hurt Obama in ’08,” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol told Politico. “On the other hand, those running against McCain in ’08, Kerry in ’04, and Dole in ’96 bowed to momentum. And that didn’t turn out so well.”
Kristol said he opposes bowing. “I’d prefer to take my chances on trusting the voters and letting them -- in more than just a few states -- decide.”
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