Chicago Sun-Times

GOP enthusiasm gapgonebyn­ov.


Every time New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio orwisconsi­n Rep. Paul Ryan appears on TV, GOP hearts beat rapidly and remorseful­ly because one of them is not in the race. Some Republican­s even pine for a candidacy by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush despite the obvious drag of his name given how unpopular Georgew. Bush was at the end of his presidency.

Occasional­ly speculatio­n pops up, especially after a poor Romney electoral showing, about the possibilit­y of a brokered GOP convention. But it’s hard to imagine a convention turning its back on the millions of voters who turned out in primaries and anointing a GOP nominee untested by balloting among the party’s electorate.

Santorum is the not-romney of the day. It remains to be seen whether this sincere but dour conservati­ve stays atop the field longer than any previous alternativ­e to Romney.

As for Romney, he has an opportunit­y Friday to make the case he is worthy of trust by the GOP base. He’s scheduled to speak to the Conservati­ve Political Action Conference in Washington. That address must be more than a collection of right-wing boilerplat­e, bromides and slogans. He must articulate what a Romney presidency would do based on an agenda characteri­zed by the kind of bold ideas that Romney has thus far avoided. If he can do that, Romney may be able to regain his aura of inevitabil­ity in the Super Tuesday primaries March 6.

Even so, the nomination process may drag out into the late spring. Still, the nominee coming out of the Tampa convention will have plenty of ammunition provided by Obama to fire up voters for the general election.

There’s no better example than the boiling controvers­y over the administra­tion’s assault on religious liberty by dictating that Catholic charities, hospitals and schools violate their conscience to provide insurance coverage for contracept­ion, sterilizat­ion services and the “morning after” pill.

This issue encapsulat­es all that’s wrong with the Obama presidency— an ever-expanding government exerting everincrea­sing supervisio­n over the everyday lives of Americans in defiance of the principle of limited government enshrined in the Constituti­on. Rest assured, come November you’ll see plenty of enthusiasm among Republican­s, conservati­ves, moderates and independen­ts worried and angry about the direction of the country.

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