There seems to be a rush to count Romney out before the primary ballots have even been cast in most states.
Then we hear from the AP and others that Romney hasn't bought ad in any Super Tuesday states (a rumor since repudiated by the Romney campaign, as the AP has now reported).
I'm not buying the claim that Romney can't win.
Romney is closer to McCain in many state polls than Barack Obama is to Hillary Clinton -- but I don't hear anyone throwing in the towel for Obama. It's taken as a given that Obama's campaign will extend past Super Tuesday. Why isn't that taken as a given for Romney? It should be.
What's going on with pundits who are already counting Romney out? Some are born pessimists. Others have never had the life experience of being counted out, only to come roaring back.
Some pundits want to seem cool; since Romney isn't a classic celebrity, they are embarrassed to stand behind him when he's on the ropes.
Some aren't sure that McCain will win, but are so eager to seem politically savvy and ahead of the curve that they are ready to call the race based on current circumstances.
Of course, the traditional media and pundits on the left are doing their part to try to ensure that McCain is the nominee. They are making an extra effort to tear Romney down so that they will have a weaker and more moderate opponent in the general election. Why not support McCain over Romney? If McCain won the presidency, they could still push through much of their agenda. (Of course, once the primaries are out of the way, if McCain is the nominee liberals will still work hard to demonize and destroy McCain, just as they try to demonize and destroy every prominent Republican.)
Yet there are reasons to believe that the game is still fully in play. One reason is that McCain started with greater name recognition. Romney is playing catch up (as is Barack Obama). Every day that goes by gives Romney a chance to narrow the name recognition gap.
Another factor is that several Republican candidates have now dropped out, or their candidacies have become nonviable. That means more votes are in play -- another opportunity for both Romney and McCain.
Meanwhile, the conservative base of the Republican party is still catching its breath over the sudden departures of Giuliani and Fred Thompson. There literally hasn't been enough time yet for former Fred Thompson voters to figure out that Romney is a lot closer to their positions than McCain. Huckabee is still out there too, and his block of voters is also more likely to fall to Romney in the final analysis.
An additional factor that matters a great deal is that some of the early primaries were open primaries with strange circumstances at work that caused Democratic party voters to vote in the Republican primary. It happened in Michigan and it happened in Florida. In neither state was there a traditional Democratic party primary in which Democratic votes mattered. Democrats had every incentive to vote in the Republican primary instead, favoring McCain.
Maybe Romney will still win the nomination; maybe he won't. But the wheel is still spinning, and this is no time for pundits to help ensure a McCain victory by announcing that Romney is defeated. He's not.
It's like the Iraq surge. Too many pundits called the war lost at a time when it wasn't. It may have seemed lost to them, but it wasn't lost. All it needed was a new approach and a new strategy.
Romney isn't my first choice for president of the United States, but he's a viable candidate and he's preferable to McCain and vastly preferable to Hillary Clinton. I see no reason to give up on Romney prematurely, if ever.
Life works better if you have the courage to stand by what you believe in (or what you much prefer to the alternative) and go down fighting. Fight for what you want.
Let others slam the door in your face if they must, but never slam the door on yourself.
Update 1: Although I would prefer Romney over McCain if I had to choose at this point, an argument can be made for McCain, given the importance of national security over most other concerns. A reader of National Review Online makes the case.
Update 2: In the interests of counterpoint, Mark Levin urges conservatives to support Romney now.