By Kevin Reagan,

January 13, 2012


The fat lady is in the green room and is going through her warm-up routine. After all, this contest is over, right? I mean, it’s not, but it is. At least, that is the prevailing wisdom.

Just as the mainstream media helped talk the nation into a recession in 2007-2008, it is helping Mitt Romney on his way to the Republican nomination. This election cycle is proving a version of the old adage that if something is repeated often enough it will become the truth. In this case, it is Mitt Romney’s “inevitability.”

For months, the words “Mitt Romney” and “inevitable” have been used in the same sentence so many times, it is nauseating. Now that he is the first Republican non-incumbent to win both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary since 1976, that talk has only intensified.  Indeed, his nomination now seems more and more inevitable by the day, as he maintains a lead in polls in South Carolina ahead of that state’s January 21st primary. There is a widespread consensus that if he wins that primary, he will walk the rest of the way to the nomination.

Conservatives are thus caught between a rock and a hard place. While very few were comfortable with his candidacy from the onset, they have not been able to coalesce around the “non-Romney candidate” or a “conservative alternative” to Romney. This is largely due to the fact that the other candidates in the race have done almost nothing to weaken him and very little to strengthen themselves. Therefore, after only two contests, conservatives are tasting the (bitter, perhaps?) reality of Romney’s inevitability.

This situation has the conservative wing of the Republican Party divided.  While some scramble to find alternatives or ways out of a Romney nomination, others are accepting the notion of a Romney candidacy against Barack Obama. It appears that this would be a more rational approach given polling data which projects Romney to be the best candidate to challenge President Obama in the general election. It’s a good thing that his fellow contenders are preparing him for the attacks he will be receiving from the Left once he is the nominee.

Truthfully, I don’t completely understand the conservative apprehension about Romney being the nominee. While he has a less-than-stellar conservative record, that doesn’t concern me as much as it does others. Here’s why: the GOP will almost certainly retain its majority in the House, and it has a very good chance of gaining a majority in the Senate. Republicans will be defending ten Senate seats this cycle; Democrats will be defending 23. This is a great source of motivation and comfort for the Tea Party. Assuming the GOP gains control of both houses of Congress, how would President Romney be able to govern from the left? If a conservative, Republican-backed bill passed by both houses lands on his desk, he’s not going to veto it.

The attacks being hurled at Mitt Romney by his rivals regarding Bain Capital are asinine and demonstrate, as Romney has said, the desperation of the other candidates in the race. The rest of the GOP field is attacking Romney from the left and essentially teaming up with the administration and the DNC reeks of desperation. Those attacks will only pick up in the next few days, as Super PACs like the one supporting Newt Gingrich continue to portray him as a “vulture capitalist.” It remains to be seen whether they will have any significant effect on Romney’s poll numbers, but it appears that the other candidates are out of options. As Rick Perry acknowledged the other day on “Hannity,” South Carolina represents the conservative “line in the sand” against a Romney nomination.

South Carolina is going to be the end of the line for many of the candidates. One of the three “conservative alternatives” will survive. Barring a stunning comeback by Rick Perry, it will either be Santorum or Newt Gingrich. Happy trails, Jon Huntsman (and casual Beatles references in third-place “victory” speeches). If Romney wins South Carolina, it will really, truly be over. Let the veepstakes discussions begin in earnest!  My only question: should we move the convention? Why wait until August to formally nominate him?  This election is going to be a dogfight, and the Left, led by DNC Chairwoman and comedian Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is already attacking Romney.  Romney, for his part, has done a very good job focusing his attacks on Obama. Why not let him devote all of his attention to that instead of having to deal with distractions from his own party?

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