It’s full speed ahead for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.
At the same time that reports were emerging Wednesday that Newt Gingrich will drop out of the presidential race, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave Romney the party’s full blessing.
Priebus said he made the call after Romney’s clean sweep on Tuesday of five primaries to ramp up outreach and coordination in anticipation of the general election. Asked by The Hill about the shift in direction, Priebus said he had directed his staff to open up lines of communication with Romney’s campaign, including the designation of four liaisons.
“Everything the DNC is doing for Barack Obama, we are going to do times 10 for Mitt Romney,” said Priebus.
For most of April, Romney has been regarded as the de facto nominee, with the delegate math for his remaining challengers overwhelmingly prohibitive. That point was accentuated on April 10 when Rick Santorum, Romney’s strongest opponent, dropped out.
But the Republican Party has, until now, remained cautious about declaring the primary over while there are still more than a dozen states left to vote.
Romney and the RNC started jointly fundraising in early April, but an RNC official said it was the same agreement the party had offered the other candidates as well.
Romney's five-way win on Tuesday erased any lingering doubt that Romney will be the man to face Obama in November — a factor that Gingrich, one of the two Republicans still opposing Romney in the primary, acknowledged freely on Wednesday as reports emerged that he will drop out of the race.
“You have to at some point be honest about what’s happening in the real world as opposed to what you’d like to have happen. Gov. Romney had a very good day yesterday,” said the former Speaker. “I think obviously that I would be a better candidate, but the objective fact is the voters didn’t think that.
“And I also think it’s very, very important that we be unified,” Gingrich added, suggesting he would eventually back the GOP nominee.
Romney still has about 300 delegates to go to reach the 1,144 he needs to officially clinch the nomination, but the 844 he has amassed, according to an Associated Press tally, dwarfs the 260 Santorum picked up and the 137 secured by Gingrich. Ron Paul’s total is 79.