How important has Michigan's Republican presidential primary become? Talk like this is becoming increasingly common.
A prominent Republican senator just told [ABC News' Jonathan Karl] that if Romney can't win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race."If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate," said the senator, who has not endorsed anyone and requested anonymity.The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not.
The unnamed prominent Republican senator said Romney, if he manages to win the nomination after losing Michigan, would stand little chance against President Obama in November. "We'd get killed," he said, because Romney would be "too damaged."
And what of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich? The senator added that both, if nominated, would "lose 35 states." (Ron Paul's name apparently wasn't included as part of the conversation.)
So, if Romney would be broken by a Michigan defeat, and all of his rivals are inadequate, who exactly does this senator have in mind for the Republican Party in 2012?
"Jeb Bush," he said.
Look, I can appreciate the GOP's longing for a white knight, but this is getting rather silly. First, nominating yet another Bush -- the brother and son of two disliked Republican presidents -- is not a recipe for success. Second, relevant filing deadlines have come and gone.
And third, as Ed Kilgore noted, "[A]ny Bush Boom would have to deal with the fact that Republican opinion-leaders (and the current candidates) have spent a good part of the last three years trashing the administration of Jeb's brother as a heretical exercise in Big Government Conservatism."
The Jeb nonsense notwithstanding, the senator's comments to Jon Karl are an early hint of what's to come: if Santorum wins Michigan, which is certainly possible, the whispers about Romney's viability will become a roar very quickly. That probably wouldn't be enough to coax a new candidate into the race, but it might be enough to send the GOP establishment into a widespread panic.