Romney Trying to Make Victory Slog Inspiring

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at Kirkwood Park March 13, 2012 in Kirkwood, Missouri. As the race for delegates continues, voters in Alabama and Mississippi will cast their ballots in their primaries today.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me, and so forth Photo: Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

Mitt Romney’s response to his unexpected defeats last night is, apparently, to cast the depressing process of forcing Republicans to accede to the inevitable in the inspiring glow of martial rhetoric. Mike Allen reports on his rejiggered plan:

1) Keep the current team. A shakeup would show weakness and sow chaos. But he may layer in an expert in delegate hunting now that he’s in a county-by-county knife fight. 2) Bolder message: Look for him to stop saying he wants to “replace” Obama and start saying he will “defeat” Obama.

Meanwhile, Romney surrogate and secret resenter Tim Pawlenty is bucking up the troops by calling the race a “slugfest.”

I have no objection on principle to the use of violent metaphors to describe politics. But this is not a knife fight. Or, at least, he may have a knife, but his opponent is armed with a throw pillow. His opponent  has none of the salient traits of a successful candidacy. He is winning essentially, and in many instances literally, by default.

The latest instance is Illinois, where Romney has already ten delegates in the bag. Do you need an “expert in delegate hunting” to win a scenario like this?

Delegates for Santorum in January filed the minimum legal number of petition signatures to appear on the ballot in just four of Illinois' 18 available congressional districts, a review of petition signatures found. In 10 others, delegates who filed signatures came far short of the 600 required to appear on the ballot, a review of the signatures found. They didn't file any delegates in four districts.

"They were woefully short," state treasurer and Romney Illinois campaign Chairman Dan Rutherford said.

The petitions of Santorum delegates were initially challenged in January, but those challenges were withdrawn shortly after they were filed, said Illinois Board of Elections Director Rupert Borgsmiller.

Now, apparently the Romney campaign decided to let Santorum's woeful effort go largely unchallenged because it decided the public relations cost of winning almost the entire state unchallenged was not worth the delegates. They need to keep up the appearance of a competition and thus real victory. But let's not kid ourselves about the glorious battle.