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Romney Aides: We Can Count To 1,144; Santorum, Gingrich Can't

Just as they promised they would on Super Tuesday evening, Mitt Romney's campaign aides spent Wednesday explaining why their boss' rivals can't possibly win the Republican presidential nomination and how they're only helping President Obama by not accepting the inevitable and leaving the race.

There was nothing subtle about the title on Romney political director Rich Beeson's memo: "Our Opponents' Last Stand: A Postmortem."

"Super Tuesday voting significantly increased Governor Romney's delegate lead and makes it increasingly difficult for any of his opponents to catch him. To date, Governor Romney has won more than 50% of all delegates awarded and now holds nearly 40% of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination...

"... Neither opponent succeeded in closing his delegate deficit, and the calendar ahead offers them dwindling opportunities to close the gap. Looking at the weeks ahead, the remaining 34 contests have turned into a steep uphill climb for Governor Romney's opponents due to his 245-delegate lead and the rules for allocating delegates."

And in a teleconference with journalists, a Romney strategist sharpened the point:

"Last night, any way you slice it, was a damn good night for us. We won six states, over 200 delegates, increased our lead dramatically over all of our opponents. You just look through the memo and it lays out pretty clearly the case that the nomination is an impossibility for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich."

And while Santorum and Gingrich should abandon hope of getting the nomination, according to the Romney aides during the conference call, Romney had nothing but delegate blue sky ahead of him.

Romney needs to win 48 percent of the remaining delegates, a campaign staffer said, having won 53 percent of the delegates available heretofore.

By contrast, Santorum would need to win 65 percent of the delegates left while Gingrich would need to win 70 percent. That should provide a good sense of why Romney's people are essentially saying "we've got this."

A journalist asked the staffers if they were sure they could reach the magic number of 1,144 before August's Republican National Convention in Tampa and what Romney's campaign would have to do to make certain of that:

"We continue to win more delegates than these guys at the same pace that we are. You don't win by losing, and for those guys to get to where they need to be they need to start winning by enormous margins. They haven't shown a propensity to be able to do that, and there's nothing in the calendar to give them any comfort that they will. Slow and steady, we know the states where we have areas of opportunity, we know how to capitalize on those. We'll get to 1,144 whether on someone else's timeline or ours."

It seemed like a fairly compelling argument by Romney's people. But some observers noted that despite the confidence projected by his aides, Romney may not be able to count to 1,144 as easily as he and his people would like everyone to think.

John Avlon and Ben Jacobs at the Daily Beast wrote:

"... the Romney camp ... argue(s) that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have no chance of claiming the nomination, comparing their uphill climb to the extended delegate fight between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. This is true, but it purposefully misses the point. Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul individually have no real path to winning the delegate fight—but collectively they are positioned to deny the nomination to Romney and kick the contest to the convention in Tampa, where all delegates are released after the first ballot."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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