Rick Santorum's exit from the race essentially gives Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination -- or does it?
Newt Gingrich is spending Tuesday campaigning in North Carolina. As today's N&O headline said: "Newt Gingrich says he's not going away."
“There is no reason to concede anything,” Gingrich said at a news conference Monday. “Every vote we can get in North Carolina is a vote for a more conservative platform – every vote we can get in Delaware, or we can get in Arkansas or we can get in Texas, that is a very useful thing to be doing. If there is a major mistake or a major flaw, the race is wide open again.”
Santorum and Gingrich have split conservative voters looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney. But Gingrich faces an even longer shot than Santorum, based on the delegate count. So with Santorum out of the picture, it looks even less likely that North Carolina's Republican presidential primary May 8 will make a difference. Forget the bus tours with big name politicos and incessant campaign ads.
How does the change affect the rest of the ballot? Without a GOP presidential primary, political observers speculate it could decrease Republican turnout, meaning less support for the constitutional marriage amendment. It's a little early to tell, but surely a Santorum campaign in North Carolina would have driven social conservatives to the polls, so the theory may hold some truth.
As for the presidential race in North Carolina, a nominee will go a long way to helping the party begin to mount an effort against President Barack Obama's campaign, which already has more than 10 offices throughout the state.
Put your take on Santorum's exit and its meaning in our comments section.