Ron Paul is still in the game, and may yet run as a third-party candidate. But he won’t be the GOP nominee.
It is down to Obama vs. Romney, or Obama vs. Gingrich, or Obama vs. Santorum.
So, the White House has to be feeling pretty good about things, just now. Not that Perry ever had the president’s re-election campaign at all quaking, but they must be thinking, with the field narrowed, “we can easily beat any of these guys.”
And I expect they can. Against Gingrich, all they have to do is run a loop of his ex-wife’s newly-taped-and-bitter interview segments against pictures of the intact and stable Obama family, repeat the myth of a “scandal-free” administration, and play the race card, on which the press is already giving assist.
Newt, if he is the candidate will, undoubtedly, also blow himself up a few times.
Against Romney, the class-war/taxes/distrust-of-Mormons angles will be hauled out — they’re already being put in place — and again, the press will give assist.
The fact that Romney “thinks” he pays “around 15%” in taxes will be trumpeted as an obscene legality by a party top-heavy with people who seem not to pay their taxes at all, until they’re looking for congressional confirmation. But that won’t matter. For now, there will be harping by the press on Romney’s unreleased tax filings, but little-to-no curiosity about when Obama might release either his college transcripts or, you know…a budget.
Santorum is the question mark at this point, but recall that when he came so close to winning (or perhaps won) in Iowa, a few hacks immediately went the “he’s crazy, he’s weird” route. That will continue along with silly pundits worrying about the potential “theocracy” that would undoubtedly be ushered in by a Santorum presidency. Lovers of high drama and hysterics will be in their glory. Nancy Pelosi and a number of Democrat women will give dramatic speeches about “women dying on the floors” and it will escalate from there.
Santorum, a good man who can nevertheless often seem annoyingly pissy, whiny and sour in debate, will give assist to the press, who will give assist to Obama.
The media assist to Obama is real, and needs to be taken into account. Recall Evan Thomas’ unapologetic projection that media assists can give a Democrat candidate an extra 10-15% they might not otherwise have (they certainly did, with John Kerry — a dreadful candidate who should never done as well as he did in the 2004 election) and yes, I think the White House has to feel good, right now.
As things stand today, you won’t hear any more about Hillary Clinton replacing Joe Biden on the ticket. She’s not needed. You won’t hear any more about her running independently specifically to rid the Democrats of Obama, which many of them would quietly love to see.
Absent a brokered convention, and barring something at-this-moment completely unforeseen, Obama will win re-election in ’12. In a cakewalk.
Just how stupid are the Republicans? That stupid. This election was theirs to lose. And they’re losing it.
It is what it is.
Michael Barone: GOP Hopefuls are Unprepaired I’ll say!
Ed Morrissey wonders if we really need to see any candidate’s tax returns.
Instapundit: Has a roundup of info on the Romney/Caymen story, which appears to be a nothingburger. Insty links to me in there, thanks, Glenn!
Da Tech Guy: Did the press play an old racist trick a few months ago?
Mickey Kaus: Has Obama abandoned private-sector unions?
Over on Twitter, The Campaign Spot’s Jim Geraghty is having some fun imaging what coulda been, if only Perry had stayed in one more day, and let loose with some rip-roaring Perryisms at the debate. Not sure how long he can keep it up, but right now it’s funny.