Mitt Romney is ready to shake off the GOP primary and move on to the general election, and so is most of his party. He picked up Jeb Bush’s endorsement this week, and even the Tea Party has been tepidly giving its OK to the front-runner. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee is taking a page from the Obama 2008 playbook by getting a head start on general-election prep before the primaries conclude. Waiting until McCain won the nomination in 2008 left them unequipped to keep up with the Democratic campaign behemoth, a mistake the party isn’t going to repeat. The RNC plans to have staff in 10 of the 12 big swing states by the end of April, and 750,000 voter contacts have been made since the start of the year.
The Republican Party can’t copy the 2008 Obama campaign magic completely, though, given their little problem in the peanut gallery. Unilke the Obama-Clinton contest, the 2012 primary squabbles have delved into deeper questions about what the Republican Party should represent, differences that could leave festering wounds even when Romney finally, officially, prevails. The evangelicals and super-conservatives who keep turning out for the underdogs represent a not-inconsiderable thorn in his side, and one that might not disappear after the convention.
The party’s inability to move on the election cycle’s main act will be reinforced in Louisiana tomorrow. Despite the near-unanimous hollering from politicos and pundits that Romney has this in the bag, Rick Santorum’s near-certain victory won’t just be bad optics for Mitt—it’ll provide a reason for the conservative darling to keep plowing ahead and heckling the front-runner for being worse than the opposition party incumbent. Party Planning 101: If you want people to turn out, don't tell the invitees in advance that your headliner stinks.
So They Say
"You guys should do some actual reporting instead of just reporting whatever Governor Romney feeds you. Do your job."
—Rick Santorum at a press conference in Louisiana today
- It's looking like Gingrich's days are numbered in the GOP race—so it's time for retrospective look at all things Newt.
- Most recently he's showcased his sure hand with an Etch A Sketch.
- But he's got substance too--he thinks grandiose thoughts, often about Moon colonies, and he knows his way around a Lincoln-Douglas debate.
- Despite his Congressional ethics problems in 1997, he landed that much sought-after historian position with Freddie Mac.
- He found time to write some books as well. And to promote them.
- He loves animals, talking down to people, judging you, the word 'fundamentally,' and of course, Ronald Reagan.
- "He's still enjoying himself, and in Gingrichland, that seems to be all that matters."
What We're Writing
- Garrett Epps previews the Supreme Court battle over Obama's legislative baby—the Affordable Care Act—which will begin next week.
- Patrick Caldwell analyzes Newt's promise to make Tampa "the most exciting convention in modern times."
What We're Reading
- Is Mitt Romney more Jason Bourne or Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine?
- A behind-the-scenes look at campaign ads that hit the wastebasket.
- Restore Our Future puts down more than $800,000 for polling for Romney.
- Romney is currently outspending Santorum 55 to 1 in Wisconsin.
- Peggy Noonan is grouchy, and wants Romney to get off the "goofball express."
- Lawrence Lessig has some advice for Citizens United protesters.
- The Santorum campaign says its "Google problem" has been solved.
- The rest of the 2012 gang is explained with classic toy metaphors.
- Don't blame the new rules for the Republicans primary woes.
- Today in wonky clickbait: The five steamiest passages in Arlen Specter's memoir.
Poll of the Day
Mitt Romney became the first Republican candidate to reach 40 percent national support among GOP voters in the Gallup daily tracking poll this week. He now has a double-digit lead over Santorum (the two were only separated by four percentage points on March 20).