Make no mistake, the general election is on

Updated

Rick Santorum works on a different clock than, it seems, the rest of the political world outside of perhaps Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul (who arguably, have their own political orbits, behave as such, and don’t mind). Santorum, even after getting swept in last night’s primaries in Wisconsin, D.C., and Maryland, believes he has a lot of time to make up his deficit.

“It’s halftime,” he declared last night, not realizing that he’s actually down 20 with about two minutes to go:

“Pennsylvania and half the other people in this country have yet to be heard,” he said in his concession speech last night, per NBC’s Morgan Parmet. “And we’re going to go out and campaign here and across this nation to make sure that their voices are heard in the next few months.”

The media seems to be willing to give Santorum the time to express himself; after previously letting him hang his fate on Wisconsin, now the primary in his native Pennsylvania in two weeks is his decision gate. But functionally, the Republican primary process didn’t conclude last night with Mitt Romney’s sweep, which brought him halfway to the total of delegates he needs to clinch the nomination.

It ended when President Obama spoke to the AP luncheon earlier in the day, when he (as noted earlier) spit hot fire all over the newly-passed Ryan Budget 2.0, calling it a “Trojan Horse” and “thinly-veiled social Darwinism,” which is “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.” That wasn’t all that was notable; the President’s focus on Romney wasn’t an accident. (Romney is speaking before the AP today.)

From the President’s remarks:

This is now the party’s governing platform.  This is what they’re running on.  One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency.  He said that he’s “very supportive” of this new budget, and he even called it “marvelous” – which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget. It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.

Between that and the first Obama ad mentioning Romney alone, the game has begun. Romney’s speech last night also made that clear that he’s Obama’s Huckleberry. So it’s on. Will someone inform Rick Santorum?

“Uprising” author John Nichols, who was a guest on “MHP” last Sunday, writes in today’s Nation that Romney enters this new arena having garnered fewer votes than President Obama did last night. What other problems could he have? See what else we’re reading:

Make no mistake, the general election is on

Updated