“After 43 primaries and caucuses,” Romney announced in his victory speech, “many long days and not a few long nights, I can say with confidence — and gratitude — that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility. And, together, we will win on November 6th!” Romney pledged the theme of the fall campaign with him as GOP nominee would be the economy, taking a twist on Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign theme: "It's still about the economy, and we're not that stupid.”
The Washington Post noted that the primary wins have widened Romney's lead, but not yet guaranteed him the nomination. “Tuesday’s victories still left Romney short of the 1,144 delegates needed to lock up the nomination. But after defeating his remaining opponents on one of the biggest primary days of the year, the rest of the contests will amount to a mopping-up effort rather than a series of tense or meaningful battles.” Next up on the calendar are primaries May 8 in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Delegate-rich primaries in Texas (Paul's home state) and California are still more than a month in the future.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has hinted the loss in Delaware may lead to his dropping out of the race this week, while Ron Paul has pledged to fight on with his insurgent campaign. Gingrich hinted to NBC he might drop out with a poor showing in Delaware the day before the primary. "I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing," Gingrich told NBC News April 23. But a Gingrich loss by 30 points in Delaware along with third place showings three of the other states did not prompt the anticipated withdrawal. Gingrich did keep hinting at it, however, telling supporters after the results were announced that "over the next few days, we are going to look realistically at where we're at." Part of the reason for Gingrich delaying his withdrawal from the race may be his $4.3 million in campaign debt. Gingrich may want to keep his campaign officially open in order to fundraise and pay off the debt; he has already drastically cut campaign operations.
Ron Paul, on the other hand, reported to the FEC last week that he is flush with cash (raising $10.2 million in the first quarter with no campaign debt). He is also fresh on the heels of some caucus delegate victories. Moreover, Ron Paul continues to tour the nation and attract ever-larger crowds in the thousands wherever he goes, often inspiring his enthusiastic supporters to run for office locally, or to take over the local GOP organizations. While Ron Paul has yet to win an outright plurality in any presidential primary or caucus (other than the U.S. Virgin Islands caucus), his strategy of out-organizing his opponents on caucus delegate rules appears to be working and winning large numbers of delegates. Paul has made some surprising delegate gains in Minnesota and Iowa, and will win the delegate battle despite not winning a plurality in either caucus. These caucus delegate victories won't win Paul a majority of the delegates and gain him the nomination, but they will provide a strong presence at the national convention in Tampa, Florida in June.
Photo of Mitt Romney: AP Images