With Rick Santorum’s announcement that he is suspending his campaign, the 2012 Republican presidential nomination process effectively comes to an end. That Mitt Romney came out on top is certainly no upset; as we noted as early as two years ago, and again here and elsewhere, the party has a strong tradition of nominating the next-in-line candidate, and this year, Romney had the best claim to that role.
That there was, and continues to be, a strong anyone-but-Romney faction in the party is likewise no surprise. In my opinion, Romney was a much more skilled candidate in 2012 than in 2008. Nevertheless, many conservatives remain skeptical of Romney for a variety of reasons, some good (Romneycare) and some not so good (hostility toward his Mormon faith). Thus, we saw the meteoric rise, and equally abrupt fall, of one non-Romney conservative after another: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and finally Rick Santorum.
That phase of the political season is over, and it is probably just as well. It is time to get on to the main event, beating Barack Obama. The republic badly needs a new president, and I think that if the 2011-2012 primary season showed anything, it was that, of the candidates in the race, Romney is best suited to win the general election. I think he will do so. As president, Romney will no doubt disappoint conservatives at times. Every president does; many of our readers are probably too young to remember that conservative Republicans were sometimes in open rebellion against the Reagan administration. But a Romney administration would be a vast and urgently needed improvement over a second Obama term, and conservatives should set to work to do everything possible to make it happen.