On Monday, on Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Rhodes Cook found it noteworthy to point out
. . .that Romney’s share of the vote has steadily declined as the primaries have unfolded. He drew 41% in the six primaries held before Super Tuesday (March 6), 38% in the seven primaries that took place on Super Tuesday, and 30% in the two Deep South primaries in Alabama and Mississippi) held since then.
Yesterday, he finished with just shy of 47% of the vote in Illinois, running 12 points ahead of Rick Santorum, routing him, as one headline writer had it. The Massachusetts governor won decisively in Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties, taking 57, 54 and 56 percent of the vote, respectively. Unlike last week when Santorum outperformed the exit polls, this week, as Michael Barone noted, the former Massachusetts governor ran ahead of what had been “projected by the exit poll“.
He won well enough to change the dynamics of the race. Instead of a slow crawl to the nomination, he should now start picking up the pace.
I was doing cardio at the gym when the returns started coming in and when the race was called. I watched Mitt Romney’s speech, catching the words via closed captioning. He seemed to largely repeat his economic freedom speech of the previous day. One phrase stood out. More on that anon.
Rick started speaking just as I was finishing my workout. And he was still speaking after I had changed and returned home. And still speaking. Jennifer Rubin, who heard his words, thought, that in his overlong address, he was acknowledging that the nomination is not to be his:
He publicly congratulated Romney, and tried to take credit for Romney’s economic freedom theme. It certainly looked as if, for Santorum, the light is dawning and recognition is slowly setting in: He’s not doing to be the nominee. In his excessively long speech, you could sense he is not keen on trashing the presumptive nominee.
Perhaps, it was Santorum who pushed Romney to adopt the economic freedom theme. Or, perhaps, the governor himself acknowledged the appeal of those Reaganite ideas as he watched the contest unfold. Whatever the case, last night, in declaring victory, he offered a line that would be a great campaign theme, “an economy fueled by freedom.”
Think about it; it hits two of the main issues facing voters and provides a clear alternative to Obama’s policies while referencing this nation’s founding ideal. And the founding ideal of the GOP.
For the balance of the campaign for the Republican nomination, Romney would be wise to stop attacking his Republican rivals and focus his attacks, as he did last night, on the president’s record. And keep promoting economic freedom.