As the Republican primary campaign grinds on, it’s looking likely —
though it’s not certain — that Mitt Romney will emerge as the 2012 GOP
nominee. He might be awkward and patrician, but he’s got the delegate
math, Establishment support and a financial edge in his favor. But even
if you assume that Romney is going to overcome his three remaining
Republican rivals, a lot hinges on the way it will happen. His ability
to win in November will depend in part on how long it takes him, how
much it costs him and how much more damage it will do to his (already dented) national image.
At the same time, while Romney might like for his rivals to drop out,
the scenario that most people are discussing right now — the possible
departure of Newt Gingrich, if he bombs in Tuesday’s Southern primaries —
is the one Romney should fear most.