Enough is enough, the Republican Party Headquarters appeared to say Monday.
Monday evening news broke that the Republican National Committee would begin jointly fundraising with Mitt Romney this week for the General Election. The RNC’s decision to team up with Romney is a clear sign the that national party has grown tired of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum’s claims they can still win the GOP nomination, despite the fact that Romney now has more than half the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination.
Although the three other remaining candidates were also given the opportunity to raise money alongside the RNC, they declined, which GOP consultants told the Wall Street Journal was to be expected. Low on funds, the other GOP candidates are more focused on raising enough money to beat Mitt Romney in the primary than raising money for long shot General Election campaigns.
After Romney’s predicted wins tomorrow in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, the GOP frontrunner will have more than two times as many delegates as Santorum, his next closest opponent. Gingrich no longer has the ability to win the 1,144 required delegates outright but is now trying to win the nomination by wooing uncommitted delegates away from other candidates. Paul has a similar eleventh-hour strategy.
Gingrich infamously released an “internal memo” from his campaign on the night of the Mississippi and Alabama primaries claiming he could still win the nomination. The memo claimed the race would merely at be at “halftime” when the Louisana primary came knocking the following week. After mass criticism from political pundits and even supporters, the Gingrich campaign retracted it’s statement merely hours later and claimed Newt would take his campaign to Tampa for a chance to sweet-talk his way to the nomination on the convention floor. As the race dragged on it became clear that Gingrich was not intersted in even trying play in the second half of the game, and last week, Gingrich announced he was downsizing his staff and campaign schedule.
Ron Paul, who looked to be a real contendor in the race this year, started off with a bang in Iowa and New Hampshire but quickly fizzled out for unknown reasons. Despite attracking a large number of young supporters to his candidacy, the Paul campaign never could figure out how to mobilize his support – particularly his online support - into tangible voter turnout.
For the last month, Romney’s only real challenge in the presidential primary has come from Rick Santorum, who gained support among a large block of conservatives in the party who still have not forgiven Romney for supporting Massachusetts’ health care law – AKA Romneycare – during his time as Governor. Additionally, Santorum had his own difficulties solidifying support within the party, because of his own political woes, including his support for No Child Left Behind and Benedict Arlen.
In the last several weeks, notable Republicans and Tea Party favorites had begun to rally around Romney, including American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas, House Budget Committee Chairman and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Over the weekend Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday,“The chances are overwhelming that [Romney] will be our nominee. We’re in the final phase of wrapping up this nomination.”
As recently as last weekend Santorum said the state he once represented, Pennsylvania, which goes to the polls on April 24, was a must-win state for his campaign. But today he changed his tune and claimed his campaign was focusing on winning May’s contests, indicating that he intends to stay in the race even if Romney beats him on his home turf later this month.
The RNC’s actions are not unusual for this point in the presidential cycle. In 2008 the party committee began raising funds with John McCain even though he was not yet the nominee either.
The RNC has been criticized for failing to limit the number of presidential debates this cycle, which has helped draw out the length of the contest by allowing certain candidates
Newt Gingrich to debate their way to victory.
Critics have also questioned the RNC and DNC’s joint decision in 2010 to delay the presidential nominating process by penalizing states that hold their primaries ahead of Super Tuesday. Then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele has said the intent was not to drag out the primary longer than necessary but to stop states from having their primaries too early in the year.
As the Obama campaign and Organizing for America begin to ramp up their activities, the RNC appears to finally be putting it’s foot on the gas, too.
The only real remaining question is when Romney will officially win the nomination and begin raising money with the RNC full-time.