Mitt Romney and crew won in Maine yesterday, but it should have been much easier than it was. In 2008 he ran away with over 50% of the vote. Yesterday he edged out Ron Paul, 39% to 36%. Except for Nevada he has yet to win a state that doesn't abut the Atlantic Ocean. The Santorum crowd, which didn't actively campaign in the state took 18% of the vote. The Gingrich campaign, which suddenly has all the momentum of the Titanic right after the encounter with the berg garnered 6%.
Of course Paul spent a lot of time and effort in the land of ice and snow, his campaign concentrating now on caucus states. Romney pretty well took the place for granted until the last couple of days when it appeared he might actually lose there with out some quality face time with the voting public.
Paul, who has yet to win anywhere was quoted as saying, "We're not going away." That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, because obviously the guy just can't take no for an answer. More importantly he said, "We have a message America needs at this time. That message is liberty, the right to run your life as you choose and to keep the fruits of your labor." In other words "the message" is all important. More important even than winning. "The message" is what makes it a probability that Paul, who has to know this is his last hurrah, will run as an independent this fall. Anyone this connected to "the message" isn't going to let something as minor as party loyalty get in his way.
And he has the money to keep the flame alive. The Revolution PAC has funneled him over a half million dollars lately. That is chump change to people like Romney and Gingrich for sure, but still enough to keep you rolling. The Revolution PAC has on its board of advisers former Paul political director, Penny Langford Freeman and former legal counsel to the 2008 campaign Joe Becker. Most importantly its founder, chairman, and treasurer, Gary Franchi is as whacked out as they come. His people hold rallies in Chicago on the eleventh of EVERY month to further their belief that the World Trade Center buildings were brought down, not by terrorist controlled airplanes, but by demolition charges planted by federal agents. The reason behind it all was a government pretext to clamp down on American freedoms and privacy. He is also convinced FEMA is setting up secret concentration camps at abandoned air bases, the Rockefellers and a "banking cartel" control the world economy and of course Barak Obama was born somewhere, anywhere, but here. When you have a big money backer as utterly off his nut as Franchi you know the well will never go dry. Heading off on a final glorious ride to Valhalla probably makes perfect sense to Paul.
Next up is the winner take all contest in Arizona and the Michigan primary on the 28th. The caucuses in Wyoming, like Maine a week long affair, end on the 29th of the month. Romney can spin the results in Maine as a thunderous victory, but his campaign continues to stagger. He has, despite massive efforts and breathtaking amounts of money still not convinced beetle back rank and file conservatives he should be their guy. At some point there could well be a moment of brilliant clarity in which everyone realizes he never will.
However, until then the republicans march on. Santorum is concentrating his forces in Michigan and for all practical purposes ignoring Arizona. Gingrich is probably on his knees in some luxury hotel suite occupied by the Adelsons begging for even more money and performing sex acts outlawed in most states. And Paul is continuing to preach "the message" even though hardly anyone is listening.
Such is the current and terrible nature of American politics.