News Column

Grassley: GOP Presidential Race Nears Inevitable End

March 22, 2012

Christinia Crippes

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has done the delegate math and believes it adds up to a Republican presidential nomination for Mitt Romney.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, won with an unofficial nearly 50 percent of the vote in Illinois' primary Tuesday, followed by contender Rick Santorum with 35 percent.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal put Romney's delegate total at 563, which is just shy of the halfway mark to the 1,144 needed for the nomination. Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, trails him by 300 delegates, according to those sources, and other contenders Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul trail him by a wide margin.

"Now it looks like with 550 some (delegates) ... that it's even more impossible for them to stop him," Grassley said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Though Grassley has said he is not endorsing any candidate, he has said recently and reiterated in Wednesday's call that Romney looked to be on the road to victory and he would support him if he becomes the nominee.

Grassley added he believes Romney is electable, and he cited the ongoing high unemployment and even more so the increasingly high gas prices as reasons why President Obama can be beat in the Nov. 6 general election.

The unemployment rate is about 8.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in southeast Iowa, gas prices are between about $3.60 and $3.80, and expected to rise throughout the summer.

Grassley said given those circumstances, he believes that Romney could also win Iowa, which went for Obama in 2008 and for President George W. Bush in 2004.

He said, however, that Iowa, Florida, Ohio and Virginia are going to be the toughest among a dozen battleground states.

"I don't think you're going to find the Iowa electorate a whole lot different than the national electorate except for two states, New York and California," Grassley said, and then added a couple other northwest states.

Grassley said Romney's running mate would probably be selected from among the politicians in those battleground states. But he ruled out Gov. Terry Branstad as a potential running mate, saying Iowa doesn't have enough electoral votes to put him among the contenders.

Source: (c)2012 The Hawk Eye