Rom­ney drew GOP faith­ful; San­to­rum got cross­over help

Ex-gov­er­nor do­ing bet­ter than Mccain

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Though he has called him­self the true con­ser­va­tive in the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial field, for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum of Penn­syl­va­nia con­tin­ued to ben­e­fit from cross­over Democrats in Su­per Tues­day’s pri­maries, while front-run­ner Mitt Rom­ney eas­ily won the vote among ac­tual Repub­li­cans, ac­cord­ing to a Washington Times anal­y­sis.

Mr. Rom­ney did well across the board, win­ning six of the 10 states that voted Tues­day — a bet­ter suc­cess rate than Sen. John Mccain had in 2008, when he won less than half of that year’s Su­per Tues­day’s 21 con­tests. And of the 23 states to have voted so far this year, Mr. Rom­ney has won 38 per­cent of the votes cast, which is also slightly bet­ter than Mr. Mccain did in those same states.

For his part, Mr. San­to­rum won three states Tues­day, and for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich won one. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas once again failed to win a con­test, leav­ing him 0-for-23 this year.

“Su­per Tues­day [and its 437 del­e­gates] was a one-time op­por­tu­nity for Gov­er­nor Rom­ney’s op­po­nents to di­min­ish his del­e­gate lead and claim any kind of ‘come­back.’ They failed yes­ter­day, and the cal­en­dar now only of­fers in­cre­men­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties to make head­way,” Rom­ney cam­paign po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor Rich Bee­son said in a memo out­lin­ing the field of play Wed­nes­day.

The night’s key con­test was Ohio, where Mr. Rom­ney edged Mr. San­to­rum 38 per­cent to 37 per­cent, or about 12,000 votes out or nearly 1.2 mil­lion cast.

But Mr. San­to­rum ben­e­fited from his ef­fort to get Democrats to take part in the Re­pub­li­can pri­mary. Sub­tract­ing self-iden­ti­fied Democrats, Mr. Rom­ney won by more than 22,000 votes, or bet­ter than 2 per­cent­age points, ac­cord­ing to a Times anal­y­sis of the net­works’ exit polls. That trend held true through­out the night. In the three states where exit polling was able to break out Demo­cratic vot­ers, Mr. San­to­rum won 41 per­cent of them, com­pared with Mr. Rom­ney, who won just 23 per­cent, de­spite be­ing por­trayed by Mr. San­to­rum and oth­ers in the field as the least-con­ser­va­tive po­ten­tial nom­i­nee.

ro­jec­tions show Mr. Rom­ney has more del­e­gates than the rest of the field com­bined, and his cam­paign ar­gues there’s no re­al­is­tic path for any other sin­gle can­di­date to col­lect a ma­jor­ity — mean­ing that a pro­longed bat­tle would only lead to a di­vi­sive con­ven­tion.

But Mr. San­to­rum re­jected that logic as he cam­paigned in Kansas on Wed­nes­day.

“What won’t they re­sort to, to try to bully their way through this race?” he said. “If the gov­er­nor now thinks he’s now or­dained by God to win, then let’s just have it out.”

For his part Mr. Gin­grich has said he must win next week’s South­ern pri­maries in Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi to re­main vi­able. He has only two races un­der his belt so far: Tues­day’s win in his long­time home state of Ge­or­gia and one in neigh­bor­ing South Carolina.

Mr. San­to­rum agreed with that anal­y­sis of Mr. Gin­grich’s prospects, telling sup­port­ers at a rally Wed­nes­day in Tu­pelo, Miss., that “if you de­liver a vic­tory for us on Tues­day, you will make this a two-per­son race.”

“And once it’s a two-per­son race, the con­ser­va­tive will be the nom­i­nee. You can change it all, Mis­sis­sippi,” he said.

Mr. San­to­rum added to his pre­vi­ous four vic­to­ries with a win in North Dakota’s cau­cuses and in pri­maries in Ten­nessee and Ok­la­homa.

But Mr. Rom­ney won Tues­day with his six vic­to­ries: cau­cuses in Alaska and Idaho and pri­maries in Mas­sachusetts, Ver­mont, Virginia and Ohio.

Democrats ar­gued Mr. Rom­ney should have sealed the nom­i­na­tion ear­lier against what an­a­lysts say is a weak field.

Jim Man­ley, a for­mer aide to Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy who has been watch­ing Mr. Rom­ney since his failed bid to un­seat the now late Mr. Kennedy in 1994, said the Re­pub­li­can can­di­date has a fun­da­men­tal dif­fi­culty in reach­ing vot­ers.

“The rea­son peo­ple aren’t will­ing to ac­cept him now is the same rea­son why he lost against Sen. Kennedy in ‘94,” Mr. Man­ley said. “When it comes right down to it, peo­ple don’t have the faintest idea what he stands for. He has no back­bone, no spine. He was for Rom­n­ey­care but is against Oba­macare. Give me a break.” But he may be suf­fer­ing from mov­ing goal posts. The Times anal­y­sis found that while some pre­vi­ous Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nees had sewn up the race by this point, Mr. Rom­ney is slightly ahead of where Mr. Mccain was in 2008.

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