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What happens then? One way or another, Romney eventually finds his way to securing the nomination, of course. (A girl can dream, but she shouldn’t be mixing mescaline and bathtub gin, which is sorta what you have to do to envision any other outcome at this point.) The salient question, however, is how he gets there. Quickly, easily, and fairly unscathed—or having suffered weeks or months of taxing contests in which his one-on-one opponent is a walking, talking advertisement for sincerity, conviction, and regular guyhood, and thus serves to illustrate by contrast many Romney qualities that the president’s reelection team will be hellbent to highlight in the fall.

All of which is why South Carolina matters so much to Mitt Romney. And also why the past week yielded a circumstance that heretofore would have seemed about as likely as me winning a Nobel Prize: Barack Obama’s ascension to the (temporary) captaincy of the Rick Santorum Fan Club.

E-mail: jheilemann@gmail.com.


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