In less than one month, the Republican field of nominees has been winnowed down to four candidates, with GOP voters unwilling to definitely back either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, one of whom is likely to challenge President Obama for the White House in November.
With his surprising win in South Carolina, Gingrich proved to the nation that his campaign to be the “authentic conservative” still has steam. Going into the Florida primary on Tuesday, the two were trading places in the polls, with Romney the presumptive winner and Gingrich the laggard.
According to a report published by the New York Times, Gingrich is calling for conservative candidates to team up and defeat Romney, a plea that presumably means Rick Santorum – another favorite of social conservatives – to drop out.
Ron Paul, the libertarian Representative from Texas, has remained in the race despite not carrying a single state, some say in a bid to spread his unorthodox views on the monetary and military scope of the federal government.
While the primary season stretches into June, most of the populous states – Florida, Minnesota, Washington – will have voted well before then.
Even before the first ballots were cast, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty all withdrew from the nomination fight, as the hotly contested nomination has consumed large amounts of cash and political capital.
The Republican candidates are essentailly selling the same thing: state-by-state legal exemptions from President Obama’s health care reform or its outright repeal, greater use of domestic coal and oil (and along with it, opposing any carbon taxes or cuts) and strong criticism of the president’s handling of the recession and the persistently high unemployment rate along with it.