On Tuesday night, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney officially became the Republican Party’s presidential nominee to contest the incumbent, President Barack Obama, in 2012. We have known for some time that Romney was going to get the GOP’s nod – even before Rick Santorum dropped out of the race.
Yet, it’s comforting to know that the ugly battles among the GOP presidential hopefuls haven’t dragged on into the summer, as many had previously predicted. Some even predicted and feared that the battles would end up on the convention hall’s floor in Tampa in August.
What is left to be seen is the support that comes from all of the former candidates and to see just how sincere and robust that support is. Each of them – Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman – had their own following, regardless of how big or small. And therefore, each sincere backing from a former contender will do Romney well.
While most of the contenders dutifully said – as they exited the race for one reason or another, usually a financial reason – their only objective in entering the contest was to defeat President Barack Obama in November. Therefore, they implied that they would back whoever would ultimately become the nominee for the GOP.
Now that we know the nominee is Romney, we’re watching.
Looking at the delegate counts, it appears the most-needed endorsement, dripping with sincerity, must come from former Pennsylvania Governor Rick Santorum. He amassed 253 delegates in a very short time. While many believe he blew it by holding the Bible a bit too tight, those who approved of him holding the Bible so tightly are likely listening for his voice from now until Election Day. He needs to do better than a late-night email to his followers – which he has already sent – to come across as totally sincere.
Of those who have vowed to commit to Mitt with undying support, Newt Gingrich has come through the best thus far. Not only did he embrace Romney upon his exit from the campaign, he also has appeared with Romney on the campaign and fundraising trail.
Most recently, Gingrich joined Romney and Donald Trump at a fundraising dinner in Las Vegas this week. While standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump may not be beneficial to Romney for a myriad of reasons that have cause the public to reject Trump, Gingrich’s undying support can be a plus. How much of a plus is yet to be seen. In spite of Gingrich’s organizational problems along the campaign trail, he did come through with 131 delegates. That’s a far-cry from what he wanted and expected, but, in retrospect, it’s something.
In spite of Ron Paul’s meager 119 candidates, the Paul supporters may be the ones who will turn the tide in this presidential election of 2012. Paul quit actively campaigning because of the usual problem with candidates who dropped sooner rather than later – money.
Last month, Ron Paul said he was going to stay involved to influence the GOP platform and policies on the convention floor in August. It’s what his diehard supporters expect of him. But his dream – and the dream of his supporters – came to a screeching halt due to his campaign’s severe lack of funds.
Given that Paul may likely be a thorn in Romney’s side, it is left up to the other candidates to come through as Gingrich has so far. This summer will tell if the former GOP presidential candidates can get as united as – if not more united than – the Democrats are behind their nominee, President Obama.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.