2.14.2008

Mitt Romney endorses John McCain, gets him close to 1191

Mitt Romney is planning to endorse John McCain in the GOP race, and will ask his delegates to support the Arizona Senator at the convention. The announcement should be made this afternoon in Boston, where the McCain campaign should join Romney. A week ago when he withdrew from the race, Romney explained he wanted to allow the party to unify around its nominee and prepare for the general election, and he is offering a similar justification for his latest move.

What this means for the GOP nomination: Boosted by Romney's delegates, McCain gets very close to the 1,191 delegates he needs, and whatever small resistance Huckabee was putting up becomes even more futile. But McCain has not yet clinched the nomination mathematically. Right now, he has 801 delegates. Huckabee has 240. Romney supposedly has 282, which gets the McCain + Romney total at 1083. However, it is important to note that Romney does not have the control of all his delegates. Caucuses do not select national delegates, but delegates for a state convention and that is where the national delegates are selected. When a candidate exits the race before these state conventions are held, he is unlikely to get any national delegates out of them. That means that a lot of Romney's delegates (the 7 from Iowa for example) are only projections (the same is true for Edwards's delegates in Iowa, which will be distributed to Obama and Clinton).

This is not to say that there is any suspense left as to the identity of the GOP nominee, and these points are only technicalities to point out that McCain has not reached 1,191 just yet. Mike Huckabee's campaign had ceased to be about winning in the past week but about making an anti-McCain conservative statement, and the results out of Louisiana, Kansas and Virginia demonstrated that the base of the party is still uncomfortable with the Arizona Senator. As long as McCain has not reached 1,191, Huckabee has little reason to stop his campaign.

Why McCain, why now?: It is somewhat surprising to see Romney back McCain so quickly, especially after the very tense moments the two had on the campaign trail over the past few months. The run-up to Florida's primary was particularly brutal. If Romney had rallied behind Huckabee, might that not have given him the delegate boost he would need and the conservative credibility to contest McCain's dominance?

First, Romney has no reason to help Huckabee. If anything, Huckabee's candidacy was more damaging to Romney than McCain's. It's Huckabee's Iowa surge that gave Romney his first major loss and forced him to spend weeks in the Midwest instead of defending New Hampshire; and it is Huckabee's decision to let McCain win South Carolina with barely any resistance that allowed the Arizona Senator to become his party's front-runner. Throughout the campaign, the tensions between Huckabee and Romney were often as palpable than those Mitt had with McCain, as the ABC debate of January 5th underscored.

Second, Romney is eying future presidential elections. By withdrawing last week, Romney sought to appear like a devoted Republican concerned with his party's unity electoral success. And by rallying around the GOP's front-runner today, he is once again presenting himself as the one who resolved whatever disunity there was left and set the GOP on the path to the general election. If there is anything we have learned about Romney over the past two years, it's that he is a very good strategist and does very little on the public arena without thinking about its political consequences. The timing of this latest move has 2012 written all over it.

6 Comments:

  • He Clinches.

    The yet to be assigned Washington and LA delegates push him over the top.

    PS: Huck has already been mathematically eliminated.

    WA has the messed up Law causing the Primary "vote" on the 19th. The GOP will give the Caucus delegates at this time.

    LA: will "Proportion" their vote the 24th I think.

    Not that any of this matters, Its over. No one left in the race can mathematically win except McCain.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 14 February, 2008 14:18  

  • My opinion, who gives a damn about the Repubs. If they could, they would allow Bush and Cheney to President/VP for life. Thank God they pushed through the 22nd amendment; otherwise we'd all be looking forward to Bush's Third Term. And there's enough idiots in the USA to elect him again. As for McCain, he has to run on Bush's record. In any sane country, that would doom him for sure, but not in the good ol' USA.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 14 February, 2008 17:48  

  • That crazy old man? The republicans are just wallpaper on the set of this production. They are like,so yesterday. He-he.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 14 February, 2008 17:55  

  • As a point of fairness, if you take the second "anonymous" comment above and make the following changes:

    'Clinton' for 'Bush'
    'Gore' for 'Cheney'
    'Gore' again for 'McCain'

    You'd have something that half the country eight years ago would have viewed as an equally accurate statement.

    By Anonymous Mr. Rational, At 14 February, 2008 20:44  

  • "You'd have something that half the country eight years ago would have viewed as an equally accurate statement."

    I think you need to look at Clinton's approval rating compared to Bush's.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 15 February, 2008 06:02  

  • C.S., please tell me I don't have to explain metaphorical language to you.

    By Anonymous Mr. Rational, At 15 February, 2008 10:16  

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