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Republican Primaries: Guess What Folks? This Could Be It

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As the first Republican presidential candidate - except for a sitting president - to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney seems poised to capture South Carolina this Saturday and go on to win the nomination of his party.

No Republican presidential candidate except for a sitting president, has ever won all three of these primaries in a row.

That's what we call in New York racing parlance a "Tri-fecta."

However, this will not happen before a bloody battle ensues spearheaded by Christian Conservatives and the relentless Tea Party led into battle by their standard bearer Ron Paul.

Perhaps not since the crusades and the reign of Saladin in the 12th century will so much blood be spilled to assure one man's demise.

In this modern day 'crusade' the target of their vigorously hurled swords and arrows will be one man - the so called 'flip-flopping, eastern-elite-mormon presidential candidate', governor Mitt Romney.

The Christian Conservatives aligned with the Tea Party have put out a 'defeat warrant' on Mitt 'no blue collar in his closet' Romney and they seem to be willing to go to any length to see he does not get the nomination.

A group of Christian Conservative activists and leaders decided just this Saturday in Texas to throw their support ironically behind Roman Catholic Rick Santorum in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and a spokesman for the group of 150 activists, said that a "strong consensus" emerged for the former Pennsylvania senator after a three-ballot process.

Perkins was clear in his message and said that Santorum got more than two-thirds support from the activists in the final ballot, in which he was challenged only by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Ultimately, Perkins suggested that the desire to defeat President Obama had helped push the group toward a decision.

Perkins said: "We don't need to just change jerseys. We need to change the way we do business."

It seems they have picked what they believe is the best retail campaigner with the least personal baggage to be their conservative choice.

However, this unified endorsement by some activist in the Evangelical Community is no guarantee that individual Evangelical Christians who support Gingrich or Perry will abandon their candidate and simply fall in line and vote for Santorum.

The Romney Camp must be applauding this choice since they clearly view Santorum as a weaker challenger than Gingrich.

Santorum has no executive experience and went down in his last Senate race in a resounding defeat in Pennsylvania - he also had a very weak showing in New Hampshire this week.

Santorum is currently running his campaign on a shoe string and has little national organisation in place in the upcoming primary states.

As an example, just yesterday, the important swing state of Virginia upheld its decision not to include Santorum, Gingrich Huntsman or Perry on their primary ballot which now only includes Romney and Paul.

In the last two contests the combined 'non- Romney vote' (which included the Ron Paul Tea Party vote) exceeded Romney's overall victory percentage.

Although Ron Paul's selection was not even an afterthought at this Christian Conservative meeting in Texas, DO NOT count Paul and his Tea Party faithful out of this year's battle for the hearts and minds of the conservative movement.

If you think the Tea Party is over it is time to pour yourself another cup.

Ron Paul, whose supporters are mainly under 30, has tapped into a very strong sentiment which is not going away.

Paul's libertarian ideas greatly appeal to both the Tea Party and OWS supporters.

Despite some of his more unconventional ideas, Paul's anti-war stance has struck a real chord especially with young voters who are the children, and in some cases the grandchildren, of the Vietnam generation.

They express a legitimate concern that the 'war on terror' which could go on forever drains the US coffers and human resources.

They also see no end to the spending of trillions of dollars supporting the military industrial complex while leaving no money for them to build their future.

These young voters are engaged, concerned and have no intention of going away or falling in line with the evangelical Republican choice.

Its a long way to Tampa and the Republican National Convention where Paul & Co have the potential to dominate the message and get their own plank in the GOP Platform.

Even if the Evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party gets behind Santorum, the Ron Paul supporters are likely to maintain their split - which continues to work in Romney's favor.

This battle also continues on the air ways as SuperPACS dominate and take control of the candidates highly negative messages (see my Washington Notebook blog Iowa's Mixed Messages).

The gauntlets will be thrown down and the fur will fly at the GOP Debates on both Monday in Myrtle Beach SC and Thursday in Charleston SC as candidates Santorum, Gingrich, Perry and Huntsman hurl whatever they can find to fatally wound Mitt and stop the inevitable, before he captures the Palmetto State on his way to Florida next week and a solid nomination victory.

As New York Yankee legend Yogi Berra was fond of saying, "it ain't over till its over."

Well, guess what folks? As I have seen up close and personal in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney's war chest is overflowing with piles of cash and this does not even include the SuperPACs spending to support his nomination.

His campaign machine is extraordinarily deep with a real national organisation and key operatives in every primary state.

It is a polished, committed and well-oiled machine and a daunting obstacle to overcome.

So assuming Romney chalks up another victory in South Carolina, I will add to my favourite NY Yankee's quote..."Its Over."

This blog can also be read on Sky News

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