Winners and losers of Romney’s Republican primary triumph

With Mitt Romney having all but clinched the Republican presidential nomination, he'll now have to work to unify the party behind his candidacy.

But that might not be as easy as it sounds.

ADVERTISEMENT
Rick Santorum's exit from the race Tuesday was noticeable for what it lacked — any mention of Romney, let alone an endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor.

And despite the fact Romney's chief rival bowed out, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul vowed to campaign on. While they are unlikely to pose a major threat, they could prove an annoyance as Romney shifts into general-election mode.

Romney certainly took some hits throughout the Republican primary process, and he enters the general election as an underdog to President Obama.

Some GOP kingmakers got behind Romney early, while others actively worked against his bid. In the weeks ahead, Romney will strive to bring the GOP together. But he will not forget who opposed him. Politicians never do.

The winners and losers of Romney’s victory follow.

Winners

Republican leaders in Congress. Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThe two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election White House strikes back at Bushes over legacy MORE (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.) refrained from endorsing, but their deputies — Reps. Eric CantorEric CantorTop Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling to retire after end of current term A tyranny of the minority is raising your health care costs MORE (R-Va.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Senate panel subpoenaed ex-Yahoo chief | Twitter gives all users 280 characters | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | EU wants tax answers from Apple Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Former Yahoo CEO subpoenaed to appear before Congress MORE (R-S.D.) — all backed Romney. John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThe two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election White House strikes back at Bushes over legacy MORE and McConnell knew that anyone but Romney could have significantly hurt Republicans down ballot come November. Romney’s win increases the chances Boehner will remain Speaker and McConnell will become majority leader in 2013.

Centrist Republicans. In 2008, Romney ran as the conservative alternative to Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE (R-Ariz.). Whether it was fair or not, Romney was viewed as the centrist candidate this time around. Centrists in the GOP don’t often get their way, but Republicans like Reps. Charlie Bass (N.H.), Dave ReichertDavid ReichertThe future lies in the Asia-Pacific Republican’s decision to retire seen as sign of growing frustration in Washington Ohio Republican Tiberi to leave Congress MORE (Wash.) and Steven LaTourette (Ohio) are breathing easier now.

The business wing of the GOP
. Romney ran on his business background and industry leaders backed his candidacy. Social conservatives, worried about Romney’s change of position on abortion, coalesced behind former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). In this intraparty battle, business interests won out.

National Review
. Late last year, the conservative publication ripped Newt Gingrich as he was moving up in the polls. The article didn’t pull any punches, but the cover illustration of Gingrich as Marvin the Martian stunned many in the GOP. The magazine, which was founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr., took a lot of heat for its cover. Gingrich subsequently faded.

Losers

The Tea Party. Polls show that the Tea Party has lost some of its clout, and Romney’s victory is yet another indication that it is not nearly as strong as it was in 2010. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), who founded the Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, has openly criticized Romney. Frustrated by Romney’s success in the primary, Armey earlier this year said he was focusing on electing conservatives to Congress. Last month, after it was apparent Romney had the nomination wrapped up, FreedomWorks dropped its opposition to the former Massachusetts governor.

Rush Limbaugh, a champion of the Tea Party movement, hasn’t been enamored with Romney. The conservative talk-show host last fall said the former Massachusetts governor “is not a conservative.” Months earlier, Limbaugh lambasted Romney’s remarks on global warming, suggesting they were the kiss of death. At the time, Limbaugh said, “Bye-bye, nomination.”

Social conservatives. Leaders of the movement rallied around Santorum, but it was too little, too late. Bob Vander Plaats, the influential social conservative leader in Iowa, tried everything he could to prevent Romney from winning. At times, Vander Plaats — who backed Santorum — seemed to be making headway. But the multi-candidate field, coupled with Romney’s vast resources, was too much to overcome. Vander Plaats has said he would vote for Romney over Obama.

Bobby Jindal. The Louisiana governor was an early backer of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), and that move backfired. And while the former congressman has been mentioned as a possible running mate to Romney, he is not a leading contender.

Mixed

President Obama. The president’s reelection team has been preparing for a Romney win, partly because it fears him the most. Democrats briefly relished the idea of a Gingrich-versus-Obama matchup. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said a Gingrich primary win would be the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater. Obama is in better political shape than he was last fall and one of the reasons is Romney’s long march to the nomination. Yet independent political handicappers say that Romney has a decent chance to beat Obama.