- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

THE REPUBLICAN ROMINATION

Maybe the assorted Republican vice presidential contenders should just go ahead and stage their own debate, what with multiple reports that now claim Mitt Romney’s appearance in a CNN debate on Thursday night could be his finale. That’s right. The nation would be Mitt-less. There are rumblings that Mr. Romney may be a no-show in the six remaining GOP bouts, now scheduled for Florida, Arizona, Georgia, California and Oregon through mid-March. That would leave his four rivals to snarl and scrap with one another over the tidbits, as long as their campaign funds hold out.

So bring on the vice presidential hopefuls, because this race might end prematurely.

“If current polls are correct, the fat lady is going to sing somewhere in the middle of the first act of the Republican presidential nominating process, making it one of the shortest operas on record,” observes Pajamas Media founder Roger L. Simon. “Part of the reason a Romney consensus may be emerging so quickly is that there were so many debates before the actual voting began. We’re all suffering from debate fatigue and want to get this over with.”

But who could blame Mr. Romney and his cautious handlers for debate ducking? The candidate is in his happy place now, still garnering the most face time on camera, still relatively unscathed from rivals’ attacks, though that could change, judging from Newt Gingrich’s ferocity or Rick Santorum’s newfound aggression. Both could ding the polished Romney veneer with a sharp poke about taxes or abortion.

Arizona Cardinals place kicker Jay Feely is among the luminaries scheduled to address the Republican Southern Leadership Conference.
Arizona Cardinals place kicker Jay Feely is among the luminaries scheduled to ... more >

Even oft-reserved Gallup director Frank Newport declares that the Republican nomination belongs to Mr. Romney, who now enjoys a “commanding 23-point lead over his nearest competitor” with 37 percent of the support of Republicans nationwide. “History suggests that Romney is now the probable favorite to win the Republican nomination,” Mr. Newport says.

SOUTHERN REPUBLICANS

An interesting cast of luminaries awaits the Republicans from 14 Southern states who attend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which gets under way Wednesday in Charleston, S.C. Along with CNN and the Tea Party Patriots, the group hosts the final debate in the Palmetto State on Thursday night. They have much planned.

On their roster of speakers: Herman Cain, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Fred Thompson, Neal Boortz, Arizona Cardinals placekicker Jay Feely, J.C. Watts, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and Chuck Cunningham , political director of the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Cain has promised he’ll make an “unconventional” presidential endorsement when he takes the dais — and his coyness has vexed the press, he says.

“When I respond that it will be ‘unconventional,’ they go nuts because they cannot conceive of what that means,” Mr. Cain explains. “You will be endorsing yourself, getting back into the presidential race, they guess. Nope. You will be endorsing someone that’s not in the race, they suggest. Nope. You will be endorsing two of the remaining candidates instead of one. No again.”

His remaining hint?

“I’m still looking for the right candidate to ‘adopt’ the 9-9-9 plan.” Mr. Cain declares.

BUMPER PATROL

“Re-elect Obama and Kiss Your Assets Good-bye.”

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