Romney Presses GOP Into Loveless Marriage

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Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you, or are you going back to the one you love? Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Romney is beginning to pull away from Gingrich once again in Florida. There’s no mystery as to why: He’s outspending him by about 9-to-1. That’s how Romney crushed Gingrich in Iowa. But Gingrich does have a late inflow of money coming in from Sheldon Adelson that hasn’t had an effect yet, so don’t be surprised to see a last-minute Gingrich surge as the primary approaches.

The Republican primary battle has come to resemble the love triangle in the movie Casino. The GOP electorate is Sharon Stone, torn between wealthy, calculating casino boss Robert DeNiro, whom she recognizes it is in her interest to marry, and James Woods, the sleazy pimp ex-boyfriend she can’t quite leave behind. She keeps rebuffing his marriage proposals, insisting she’s not in love with him, but he’s undeterred. “I'm realistic. I can accept that,” he says. “But, you know, what is... What is love anyway?  It's a — it's a mutual respect.”

Romney is the same way, accepting and rational about the voters’ lack of true feelings for him:

Asked when he thought his party would fall in love with him, he said: "I think the Republican Party will fall in love with our nominee."

When you have that base of respect, those feelings will grow in time. Right?

Meanwhile, Gingrich simply has some kind of charismatic attraction that Romney finds bewildering:

Another Romney adviser was more derisive of the Anybody-but-Mitt Republicans.

“They like preachers,” the adviser said of the tea party demographic. “If you take them to a tent meeting, they’ll get whipped into a frenzy. That’s how people like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich get women to fall into bed with them.”

And, of course, Romney resents that animalistic attraction precisely because he can’t generate it. And so Romney is imploring the Republican voters not to go back to the sleazeball who did them wrong last time, and he is throwing around his money and power. He has goons like Matt Drudge and Ann Coulter working Gingrich over, sort of like this.

Ultimately, Romney’s money will probably carry the day – either in Florida or sometime after. But the marriage will end in screaming and tears.