If the returns tonight show what the exit polls indicate, Mitt Romney will muster a near-majority in the Florida primary. He may win by a bigger margin over Newt Gingrich in the Sunshine State than that by which the Pennsylvania native bested him in South Carolina.
Should Romney do well, he would be advised not to gloat, but instead to commend his rivals for running spirited campaigns, praising them for the positive proposals they have put forward. In short, he should be magnanimous. He will need the support of his rivals’ supporters if he is to defeat Obama in the fall.
He can learn something from each of his three remaining rivals. Newt has shown has to rally the conservative faithful — and when he’s not whining — demonstrated how to articulate the unifying conservative principles which have (ostensibly) guided our party these past three decades. Rick Santorum has been tenacious in the face of low poll numbers and pleas for him to exit the race. In understanding Ron Paul’s appeal, Romney can appreciate the power of the ideal of liberty and adherence to constitutional principles — not to mention the concerns the Texas Congressman has articulated about the Federal Reserve.
In short, tonight while Mitt Romney savors his victory, he must remember his rivals. He needs their support to unite the GOP and defeat a president out of step with the American electorate.