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Romney wins Republican nomination but will it just be a footnote in history?

Mitt Romney has secured the Republican presidential nomination. Photo: REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Last night Mitt Romney easily won the Republican primary in Texas. No big deal. He had no real competition.

But it matters for one reason: Victory in Texas has put the Mormon millionaire over the threshold to be certain of winning the Republican Presidential nomination. He has now secured the 1,144 delegates required.

It's a triumph of persistence over charisma; of fund-raising stamina over political skill.

Almost everyone who has attended a Mitt Romney campaign rally is struck by his inability to connect with ordinary voters. A Romney event is a study in caution and cliche.

You're left scratching your head and asking, "Is this really the time for Republicans to have nominated a wealthy venture capitalist who has no idea what it is like to struggle?"

So how on earth has he won the nomination and with it the right to challenge President Obama for the greatest prize in the world, the keys to the White House?

The answer, in part, is that he has been lucky. The other Republican candidates were weak. Some of the strongest contenders decided to sit it out, eyeing 2016 instead.

(L-R) Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman. Credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Many of Romney's rivals who did enter the race - Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum among them - soared before crashing back to earth amid scandal, ineptitude and a lack of cash. Romney finally won because there was no one else who could survive the scrutiny of a primary fight.

But this is not the same as saying Romney is a poor candidate for November. Stamina matters in American politics. Generating campaign funds is crucial. Luck helps.

The Republican primary process was brutal and may have battle-tested Romney. President Obama would be making a fatal mistake to be complacent. Polling suggests this contest will be very competitive.

Polls suggest that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will fight a very close election. Credit: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

But it's a tough road for the former Massachusetts Governor. To win, Romney must somehow achieve the following:

  • Unite a fractured Republican party.
  • Raise hundreds of millions of dollars (a billion would help).
  • Out-campaign the most gifted orator in American politics for 50 years.
  • Hope that the US economy stalls, unemployment soars and that a Middle Eastern war sends petrol prices spiralling upwards.

Sounds tricky? That's why most US political commentators (though not all) believe that President Obama will win a second term. It's why Romney's victory in the Republican primaries is interesting, but ultimately may be just a footnote in the history books.

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