A large, enthusiastic crowd gathered on extremely short notice for a last minute Long Beach, California stop for Romney tonight. I talked to the get-out-the-vote staffer who was heading back to Sacramento and the headquarters even as Romney took off for West Virginia and that state’s Super Tuesday convention. The Romney team is wired, the sort of energy that cannot be faked but only flows from conviction that the political wind is at your back. Similar reports are arriving from Colorado and Georgia.
Romney clearly has momentum in California, and a win here will send the campaign into a month of head-to-head contests culminating in Ohio and Texas in early March. Expect Romney to challenge McCain to a series of one-on-one debates that McCain really cannot accept, underscoring the weakness of the McCain campaign if it has to match up against Obama. Not only would McCain be overwhelmed by the volcano of money exploding for Obama, he can’t match the Illinois senator on the small screen. The recognition of the mismatch looming is adding fuel to the Romney rally.
Romney by contrast has enormous energy and an appeal built on the future, not the past. He can easily raise the money necessary to contest the next eight months until public financing takes over on 9/1, and he would easily best Obama in one-on-ones on television.
Romney has reassembled the Reagan coalition and may have done so just in time to save the GOP from lapsing into its pre-Reagan days. If the Huck vote continues to dwindle at the rate it has been fading over the past ten days, tomorrow could have many surprises.
Romney thanked Rush, Sean, Laura, Mark Levin, Lars Larson and others among the conservative punditry for leading the rally. If he can keep it close tomorrow, the shift to him will accelerate as the GOP decides to contest 2008 on the basis of free markets, free minds, traditional values, and victory in the war –in short, on a 2008 edition of the 1980 platform.