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Tuesday losses show GOP base's deep ambivalence about Romney


The following is from the February 8, 2012, edition of The Montreal Gazette. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

February 10, 2012

By Sheldon Alberts
Washington Correspondent - Postmedia News

WASHINGTON — Talk about a presidential campaign buzz kill.

As if losing to Rick Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado wasn't bad enough, Mitt Romney had to suffer through a hangover of throbbing headlines Wednesday that reminded him of just how ugly his defeats in the latest Republican nominating contests had been.

The Washington Times: "Disaster." ABC News: "Rebuked." CBS: "Santorum stunner."

Whether Romney's big setback was actually catastrophic, or merely "embarrassing" — as the Huffington Post called it — the outcome served as a sobering reminder to the ostensible GOP front-runner of just how deeply ambivalent the Republican base is to his candidacy.

It also dramatically altered the political narrative for the Republican race as candidates enter a relative lull in the campaign ahead of primaries on Feb. 28 in Arizona and Michigan and the Super Tuesday contests on March 6.

Rather than heading toward the upcoming delegate-rich contests as the almost-certain nominee, Romney is once again confronting doubts about his ability to dispense with GOP rivals who have their own abundant weaknesses.

"This is sort of like third-grade slap fighting in the playground," says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "You don't have a heavyweight in the ring. That's why anyone can come in and take a swipe at the front-runner."

Read the full story.

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