Sayanara Santorum
04/11/2012 - 14:08


The withdrawal of Rick Santorum from the Republican presidential contest was announced in a hastily called 12-minute speech Tuesday in which the former Pennsylvania senator gracefully exited the race while tears filled the eyes of his wife and aides.

That all but clears the way for Mitt Romney to capture the nomination and it all but ensures that there will be a race for the White House in November. Had Santorum been the nominee, the Christian family values he wore on his sleeve would have caused Jews to grudgingly vote for Barack Obama. But now that the Jewish vote is back in play, there is a real chance that disgust with Obama might result in Romney posing a serious challenge to the president.

A recent opinion poll of Jewish voters by the Public Religion Research Institute found that Obama would capture 62 percent of their vote. That would be close to the 40 percent of the Jewish vote Ronald Reagan garnered in 1980, largely because of Jewish disgust with incumbent Jimmy Carter. That was the best result a Republican candidate has ever achieved.

Romney needs to now begin shifting course as he heads to the East Coast for the April 24 primaries and present himself as the moderate Republican voters in Massachusetts saw when they elected him governor in 2002. One unnamed political observer was quoted today as saying that Romney’s shift from the right-wing positions his Republican opponents forced him to adopt could be seen as advantageous by centrist independents.

Chemi Shalev of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted that Jews “might even be more sympathetic than others to a Mormon candidate’s need to put on a mask and to pretend to be something that he isn’t in order to find favor with fundamentalist, conservative Christians. Until recently, at least, that was considered acceptable, sometimes even necessary, Jewish behavior.”

I had the opportunity to see Romney and his family campaign in Florida. He appeared with his wife, Ann, and several of his children. Ann spoke first, telling the audience of how her husband provided her with comfort and strength during her battles with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. Romney, who wore an open-collar sports shirt, then spoke for about 15 or 20 minutes. After that, he circled the room extending his hand for all to shake. It was a good, firm handshake and Romney looked you in the eyes as he shook your hand – even pausing to answer quick questions.

After he had shaken everyone’s hand, he took out his pen and went again through the crowd signing autographs. It was a relaxed, charming, upbeat Romney on display in Florida.

With Santorum out of the race, Romney should easily capture New York’s 95 delegates on Primary Day April 24 because he needs only 50 percent of the vote to win them all. In addition to New York, the other states holding primaries that day are Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

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