Mitt Romney’s winning margin in Illinois turned out to be a solid twelve points, and he reportedly won at least 41 of the 54 delegates at stake. It strikes me that Romney is coolly and methodically going about the business of winning the GOP nomination. Some are calling on his rivals to stand aside, but I don’t see any reason for them to do so. Rick Santorum sees value in getting his message out, and he obviously has a substantial following within the party. Ron Paul has always been a message candidate, and he has loyal fans everywhere, so there is no particular reason why he should quit now. Newt Gingrich is in a little different category. He may well drop out; if so, it will be because he can’t pay his bills.
Romney’s win yesterday was impressive. In my opinion, his victory speech was equally so. He struck exactly the right notes, with an emphasis on economic freedom, and his tone was, I thought, pitch-perfect. Jennifer Rubin had the same reaction. Santorum, in contrast, seemed dispirited. Not only that; he wouldn’t shut up, and Fox eventually cut away while he was still talking. One could see this as emblematic of his campaign.
Many will continue to complain that Romney doesn’t excite the base. Perhaps not. But then, the base is conservative, and I would hope that we are less subject than liberals to the cult of personality. Let’s leave it to the Democrats to fall in love with a candidate and then discover, too late, that he has no idea what he is doing. My guess is that if he wins the presidency, to the extent Romney surprises his supporters, he will be a pleasant surprise rather than an unpleasant one.