Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney cruised to victory in yesterday’s GOP presidential primary, making him the first non-incumbent Republican to ever win back-to-back races in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, as we noted last week, he eked out a victory, taking just 24.6 percent of the vote. Yesterday, he did better, winning 38 percent of the vote and meeting expectations. Romney, it seems clear, is well on his way to becoming the Republican nominee to face off with Barack Obama in November.
Still, there is a sizable anti-Romney movement out there — this weekend, a group of social conservatives, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, plan to meet in Texas to discuss supporting another candidate. And really, if Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, et al. want to beat Romney, that’s what they should be doing as well — coalescing behind one non-Romney candidate. (It’s highly unlikely that the libertarian Paul would join forces; nor would Huntsman, who’s more socially moderate than the others.)
Consider: Romney has yet to achieve a majority of the vote in either race. Indeed, 75 percent voted for other candidates in Iowa; 62 percent did the same in New Hampshire. If Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry could all agree on one candidate (rock, paper, scissors?), they could roll up a lot of support from social conservatives and give a legitimate challenge to the Romney steamroller.
Don’t be surprised if it happens. Just last week, Gingrich told radio host Laura Ingraham that he’d consider teaming up with Santorum: “Of course. Rick and I have a 20-year friendship. We were both rebels, we both came into this business as reformers. … We’ll both stay in the race for a while, we’ll see how our personalities wear and how our policies and ideas wear.”
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