Bring on Obama: Romney gets set for real race to the White House

Bitter Republican battle is finally over as Gingrich concedes defeat over who should run for President

Hours after Mitt Romney essentially declared victory in the long and bitter battle to become the Republican presidential nominee for 2012, one of his last surviving rivals, Newt Gingrich, unofficially accepted the obvious and promised to suspend the campaign in the next few days.

The shift of gears that will see Mr Romney turning his fire exclusively on President Barack Obama came in a hotel ballroom in New Hampshire late on Tuesday after he swept primary elections in five states. While those results had not been in doubt, they gave the former Massachusetts Governor a springboard from which to declare the primary campaign over and the general election begun.

And so with the internecine Republican nomination struggle finally over, the US, more polarised politically than ever, will brace for a titanic clash of two candidates offering starkly contrasting visions of the future. It will be noisy and bloody with record sums of money spent to resolve it.

His speech in New Hampshire gave the clearest glimpse yet of Mr Romney's strategy: relentlessly to depict the incumbent as a disappointment, who has failed to deliver the promises of hope and change made in 2008. Top of the bill will be sluggish economic recovery. Channelling the winning campaign mantra of Bill Clinton 20 years ago, he declared: "It's still about the economy. And we're not stupid."

"Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better," Mr Romney went on. "The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it's not the best America can do. Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and it's the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together. This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country."

Any notion that Mr Romney would not be the challenger in November dissipated with the withdrawal from contention of Rick Santorum, whose ultra-conservative views had always made him a long-shot. Now, with Mr Gingrich gone, the only other man standing is Ron Paul, a libertarian with a following, mostly of young men, that is fervent but irrelevant.

Hitherto, Mr Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House, had played the stubborn hanger-on, insisting he would take his fight all the way to the party convention in Tampa in August. But he had long risked looking more petulant than pertinent. As he heads for the exits he may also soon endorse Mr Romney. "I think you have to at some point be honest with what's happening in the real world, as opposed to what you'd like to have happened," he told supporters in North Carolina. "Governor Romney had a very good day yesterday... Now you have to give him some credit. This guy's worked six years, put together a big machine, and has put together a serious campaign."

Promising to provide further details of his plans in the "next couple of days", he added: "I think, obviously, that I would be a better candidate, but the objective fact is the voters didn't think that. And I also think it's very, very important that we be unified."

The outcome in November remains uncertain. While polls show Mr Romney begins his challenge with dismal likeability ratings, some indicate that were the election to be held today, he would be competitive against Mr Obama who remains burdened by the uncertain recovery.

Mr Obama will, to an extent, be hostage to the economic indicators, determined in part by factors beyond his control, like oil prices and the continuing debt dramas in Europe. He has advantages of course. Unchallenged, he has not endured a bruising primary contest and has a re-election campaign machine in Chicago that has been gearing up for nearly a year already.

That they offer wildly different styles was obvious even on Tuesday. While Mr Romney, who some call the "competent candidate", gave his "and-we're-off" address in New Hampshire, Mr Obama showed his "cool candidate" side, "slow-jamming" the news with late night television comedian Jimmy Fallon.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform