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."
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