It’s clear that Mitt Romney (R-Cheesy Grits His Teeth) will limp to the Republican presidential nomination, but he’s getting a real tune-up in the process, especially in light of his third-place finish in Tuesday’s Alabama and Mississippi primaries.
From ABC’s The Note:
Predictably, there is a chorus of political observers who are calling for Romney to shake things up after his shutout in the South last night, but that seems unlikely.
“The lesson from yesterday’s primaries?” one of Romney’s top strategists, Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted this morning. “Even when Romney doesn’t finish first, he is successfully executing against his plan.”
And, to a large extent, he’s right. Team Romney knows that if they stick to the plan, Romney is still in the best position to clinch the nomination. The former Massachusetts governor is sitting on top of a delegate lead that is nearly double Santorum’s count and well over triple Gingrich’s.
For Santorum to have a real shot at being more than a thorn in Romney’s side as he plods along the path to Tampa, something has got to give — either Gingrich will have to heed calls to exit the race or Santorum is going to have to come up with a game changing move that give him a real shot at overtaking Romney.
Short of that, Romney still appears to have the upper-hand.
And yet . . .
Romney has the elephant gun loaded for next week’s Illinois primary:
ROMNEY AND HIS BACKERS POISED FOR ILLINOIS AD BLITZ.With Tuesday’s Southern primaries in the rear view mirror, the candidates are already gearing up for battle in two of the month’s remaining contests: Illinois and Louisiana. With recent polls showing Mitt Romney locked in a closer-than-expected race with Rick Santorum in Illinois, Romney’s campaign is buying up air time ahead of the state’s March 20 primary — to the tune of nearly $1 million. Romney is getting a big assist from the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which has already purchased more than $900,000 worth of airtime, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And sources tracking ad buys indicate the super PAC has bought up as much as $1.5 million more in TV time in just the last week. More than half of that is being spent in the greater Chicago area. That means pro-Romney forces could wind up spending well over $3 million — and perhaps more — in Illinois.
Can you say “desperate”?
I knew you could.
Meanwhile, the pro-Santorum Super PAC Red White and Blue Fund is funneling its money into Louisiana (via Politico’s Morning Score):
LOUISIANA (MARCH 24) – SANTORUM SUPER PAC SPENDING $260K: The 30-second spot from the Red, White and Blue Fund hits Obama on energy, ignoring Romney. Alex Burns says the ad goes into full rotation Wednesday, with a full strength of $260,000. “That money is spread across the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe markets, with 750 points in each.”
The TV spot:
Not a fair fight, but a really interesting one.