Tim Rutherford: Republicans know Romney is their only real hope

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After Newt Gingrich's double-digit defeat in the Florida primary on Tuesday, there have been widespread calls for him to throw in the towel and admit defeat to Mitt Romney, the now seemingly inevitable Republican candidate. Indeed Republicans would be wise to heed the advice of William F Buckley Jr, who said that whenever two or more candidates are presented before them, conservatives should back the one most likely to succeed.

In this case the opinion polls appear to be tautological: Romney represents the Republicans' only chance to defeat Barack Obama. However, if Gingrich were to concede now, would winning the Republican nomination so early help or hinder Romney in his assault on the presidency?

Obama's campaign war chest will be vast, more than double Romney's, and the shortening of the race for Republican nomination will undoubtedly allow Romney to save money; allowing him to direct finances towards his assault on the White House. However, it will also allow Obama more time to put together a campaign targeting Romney that will seek to discredit him.

Obama's campaign team has decided that Romney will be the candidate they will face, not surprising considering Florida is the fourth-largest state and operates under a winner-takes-all system, and consequently they've already started their attack. Obama's campaign claim that Romney's expenditure in Florida was more than double that of his rivals and a campaign run on anti-Gingrich sentiment rather than focusing on Romney himself, lends to a hollow victory; they claim it is difficult to say that Florida voted for Romney rather than against rivals.

Given the amount of anger ObamaCare has generated in America, you would have thought Romney would consider it his go-to issue. Yet, as Gingrich and Santorum have already referenced, Massachusetts' RomneyCare, a preface to ObamaCare, means Romney would be inviting an egg moisturiser if he were to challenge Obama on issues of health insurance. And although Romney has come out as being against ObamaCare and stated he will repeal it, Obama, the supreme orator, will fancy his chances to discredit Romney on this issue.

There are other issues that Obama's campaign has started to highlight: Romney's tax-return history, and his relationship with Bain Capital; one poll suggests his relationship with Bain Capital has already cost him 10 points with the independents and moderates, the demographic that will decide this election. Romney will be the Republican nomination; but current polls seem to suggest he is not the Republicans' best candidate for the presidency, but the one who will run Obama the closest.

Tim Rutherford is studying Mechanical Engineering at Coventry University.

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