Well, there it is. Santorum is out and the real presidential campaign begins today.

Well, there it is. Santorum is out and the real presidential campaign begins today.

Summary: Now that he's sewn up the nomination, will we see the real Mitt Romney? Do we know who the "real" Mitt Romney is? Does even Mitt Romney, anymore, know who the "real" Mitt Romney is?

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Software
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I have to say I'm disappointed. There was no doubt among just about anyone that Rick Santorum had to drop out of the GOP primary race. He'd fallen too far behind and was running on too little money. Plus, to be honest, he was a little too weird for the mainstream American voter.

CBSNews.com: Rick Santorum lasted longer in the GOP race than anyone predicted

Tonight, Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. Now, you all know I'm not in agreement with most of what Santorum stood for, but I've often said these past months how impressed I am with how far he'd gone on pure willpower. But Santorum had a tough road. Not only couldn't he raise enough money or get enough votes, but his baby, Bella, has been in and out of the hospital, including another visit just this weekend.

Perhaps Santorum is just plain worn out, and that explains his graceless exit speech. The presidential campaign exit speech is an art form, one that must accomplish many things. It should celebrate the efforts of volunteers and contributors, it must showcase the party's goals in the national perspective, and it should nod politely to those still in the race.

Such a speech is very important, because it sets up how the resigning candidate will be perceived in future discussions (and possibly future appointments or nominations). Although Santorum has run a fairly respectable campaign, the fact that he didn't mention Mitt Romney was a tactical mistake. It was an off-key final note to a run that surprised us all.

Oh, well. Santorum's done. Toast. So, by the way, is Newt. Newt might have been holding out for some big second-ballot opportunity at the convention, but Santorum's exit has paved the way for an almost assured 1144 delegates for Romney far before the convention in Tampa.

If Gingrich stays in the race now, it's just because he's having too much fun making speeches. But here's a caution to Newt: once there's a presumptive nominee who isn't you, less and less people will show up for your events. Get out, Newt, before the only people showing up at Hari Seldon High School are you, Callista, and that crazy lady who insists you're Ernie, the Keebler Elf (she does have a point, the resemblance is uncanny).

And, so here we go again.

The Republican Party has once again chosen a centrist candidate who ran so far right to get the nomination, he can't see the yellow line in the middle of the road anymore -- a candidate who may have pandered so hard to the fringe of his party that he can no longer make the case in the general election.

That's what happened with John McCain, a man who any of us in 2000 would have considered one of the most honorable men in politics. McCain chose to trade some of his credibility for delegates, a decision which allowed him to limp through to the nomination, but pushed him far too right to appeal to mainstream America. Well, okay, there was also a financial meltdown three weeks after McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. That was probably the worst timing in the history of politics, but I digress.

The point is, Mitt Romney has always been a centrist politician, one who actually might have appealed to most of America. Yes, he looks like the stuck-up has-it-all boss you've always hated, but before running for president, Romney wasn't a half bad politician. Plus, he actually likes and understands math. When was the last time we had a presidential nominee more comfortable in Microsoft Excel than in Excel, Alabama, more comfortable with PowerPoint than Hunters Point, Queens?

Romney's problem (other than most people just don't like the man) is that he's veered so far right to fight the Santorum threat (did I really call Santorum a threat? Seriously?) -- anyway, he's veered so far right to fight the Santorum threat that he's alienated women, gays, college graduates, his Harvard classmates, and just about anyone living on the East and West coasts.

It's sad, really. Sarah Palin can appeal to "real America" because she's Sarah Palin and genuinely believes most of what she says (even if the rest of us have difficulty following it all). Rick Santorum can appeal to fundamentalist Christian conservatives because he's Rick Santorum and genuinely wears sweater vests voluntarily.

But for all the times Mitt Romney has tried to sound a little like Sarah Palin, a little like Rick Santorum, a little like Joe the Plumber, he hasn't really been willing to sound like Mitt Romney -- someone boring and elitist and pompous as all heck -- but someone who clearly understands the complexity of finance and management to a level where he might get something done.

But that was the old Mitt Romney, the one who had to survive in the Massachusetts of the Kennedys. This Mitt Romney? Well, who knows? Now that he's sewn up the nomination, will we see the real Mitt Romney? Do we know who the "real" Mitt Romney is? Does even Mitt Romney, anymore, know who the "real" Mitt Romney is?

And no. I still can't tell whether Mitt Romney (whoever he is) or Barack Obama would be better for America in the next four years. That failure of positioning and leadership -- of both Romney and Obama -- may turn this into a surprisingly dismal campaign season.

ZDNet Government's coverage of Election 2012:

Topics: Microsoft, Software

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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20 comments
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  • It will be interesting...

    There is a very emotional dislike by some of Obama. There is a serious doubt about Romney especially since he's a Mormon and in both cases the group that feels these things about both contenders happens to be conservative christain types. I wonder in the end will the feelings cancel each other out and they find they have no one to vote for?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • I want some

    I want some of whatever you've been smoking to think half of anything you said is actually true!
    doh123
  • What does this have to do with tech?

    EPIC FAIL for you, Gerwitz
    ScorpioBlack
    • Not a thing

      But he's been covering the presidential campaign for months and government is his beat.
      John L. Ries
    • Well...

      1) This is the ZDNet Government blog. Obviously elections are a big part of government in the U.S. Government has a big influence on tech (see point 2).

      2) If you truly don't believe that the White House can have a huge influence on the world of technology, then you aren't paying attention. The Clinton Administration didn't invent the Internet, but ARPANet was originally a DoD project. You wouldn't even be reading this without it. Online privacy (or the lack thereof) will be greatly influenced by laws (which come from the government) and policies for the foreseeable future. Right now the DoJ is suing publishers over the future of electronic book distribution. These are but a few examples.

      Not every article needs to be about a chip, or an operating system, or a website, or a lawsuit in order to have bearing on the world of technology. Personally, I am not excited about my choices this November, but knowing the players will allow me to research and evaluate their expected impact on all facets of my life, including (to some extent) the technological ones.

      Epic fail for you, ScorpioBlack, and anyone else who can't remove their blinders to see the bigger picture.
      use_what_works_4_U
      • Using common sense=

        Advising somebody to read the title of the blog?
        +255 for you :-)
        JDS - grumpy old man
    • If I wanted to read political news...

      ...I'd go to one of the network news blogs. There's enough mud flung back & forth on those.

      Yes, I read the title to this and I responded to it by asking a question. Instead I get a lot of dumb answers making feeble excuses for it.
      ScorpioBlack
      • So the fact...

        that this is a government-centered blog is a dumb answer and feeble excuse? Somebody's trying to fight their way out of stupid.
        Tin_Kicker
  • Romney has a heart of gold

    Or whatever metallic alloy that they are making robot hearts out of.
    Your Non Advocate
    • Can't be gold he'd have long ago cut it out of his own chest

      with a dull knife and sold it:)

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • I think you're assessment of Mr. Romney is essentially correct

    My advice to him in both 2008 and 2012 would have been to "be yourself", as the failure to do just that has mortally wounded any number of presidential candicacies in the past (Pete Wilson comes to mind, but I'm a San Diegan). Playing the political chameleon does and should annoy the voters, once they're wise to it.

    BTW: The "east and west coast" comment cuts both ways. I personally think that the Democratic Party's insistance on appeasing feminists, homosexuals, and atheists has cost them more votes than it's gained them over the past 40 years or so, and accounts for most of the appeal of the religious right (it certainly helped to keep me out of the Democratic Party for 22 years, even though on most issues, I'm closer to the Democrats than to the Republicans).
    John L. Ries
    • I'm against all extreme's.

      I believe animals should be treated with respect and not harmed for lame reasons but I am so against the likes of PETA.

      I believe all women are and should be treated as equals but have NO special rights above and beyond my own.

      I believe the homosexual has every right I do as a human being and no right I have should be held from said person. However no person or group should be given more rights than I.

      As for atheists I suppose since I do not find any reason and or think there is a god I am one of them but I don't care to have more rights and or attention from my government than you or anyone for that matter. All I want is laws that do not force me to live a life other than what I as a free person of none faith would choose. I don't care what you believe and how you choose to live your life. If a TV show offends you turn it off. If a song offends switch the radio station. If a movie is not to your liking for any given reason don't stop me from watching it just don't watch it yourself. If you don't think stem cell research is a good idea because of your faith refuse any treatments created by stem cell science until an alternative can be found but don't deny me those treatments! Etc...etc.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Extremes

        @Pagan Jim: Way too logical and rational a post to be on the Internet. :-)
        r_rosen
      • Agreed!

        This is why neither of the major parties appeals to me and why I'm always disappointed by the candidates they present. I guess I'll be throwing away my vote on a third party again this time...
        strickerj
  • This article, like countless others, relys on a fallacy.

    Mitt Romney does not yet have 1144 delegates.

    Until he does, calling him the "presumptive nominee" seems, well, presumptive.

    It would be very stupid to assume that everyone who supported Santorum will now automatically switch their allegiance to Romney. For conservatives there is still another choice. I remember when conservative meant wanting a smaller, less intrusive government. For me it still does and that's why I still support Ron Paul.
    PepperdotNet
    • Here

      Its Ron Paul for President. We're marching to the National Convention. Jon Us!
      Ron Paul Money Bomb. we need money to go to National Convention.
      Donate today.
      http://ronpaul2012.com/


      The Ron Paul Phone From Home program is how we contact our supporters.
      phone.ronpaul2012.com
      rivera666
  • Sewn up the nomination?

    I don't think so. It is not "sewn up" until the convention is over. Ron Paul 2012!
    badtoad1963
    • Here Here

      Its Ron Paul for President. We're marching to the National Convention. Jon Us!
      Ron Paul Money Bomb. we need money to go to National Convention.
      Donate today.
      http://ronpaul2012.com/


      The Ron Paul Phone From Home program is how we contact our supporters.
      phone.ronpaul2012.com
      rivera666
  • The real Mitt Romney tortured his dog

    I know who the real Mitt Romney is. He tortured his dog in 83.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1638065,00.html

    If he treats his own dog like that how is he going to treat the US? People with a conscience should select someone with humanity, like Ron Paul, to be president.
    cmatrix
    • Here Here

      Its Ron Paul for President. We're marching to the National Convention. Jon Us!
      Ron Paul Money Bomb. we need money to go to National Convention.
      Donate today.
      http://ronpaul2012.com/


      The Ron Paul Phone From Home program is how we contact our supporters.
      phone.ronpaul2012.com
      rivera666