WASHINGTON – Its over, and Mitt Romney is going to be the GOP nominee for president.
Thats the growing consensus among Republican National Committee members who will automatically attend the partys national convention this summer and can support any candidate they choose.
Even some members who support other candidates begrudgingly say the math doesnt add up for anyone but the former Massachusetts governor.
I would be surprised if Romney doesnt get the number he needs, said Jeff Johnson of Minnesota, who supports former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Bob Bennett of Ohio was more blunt.
Look, Gov. Romneys going to be the nominee, and hes going to have enough votes, said Bennett, who is neutral but said he supported Romney four years ago.
Romneys chief rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, is pledging to stay in the race, hoping a victory in his home states primary April 24 will give his campaign new life. But Santorum has fallen far behind Romney in the race for convention delegates, and RNC members are taking notice, even though most are publicly neutral, preferring to let primary voters decide the nominee.
The Associated Press has polled 114 of the 120 superdelegates – party members who can support any candidate they choose at the national convention in August, regardless of what happens in primaries or caucuses.
In the latest survey, conducted Tuesday to Friday, Romney has 35 endorsements, far more than anyone else but a modest figure for the apparent nominee. Gingrich has four endorsements, Santorum has two and Texas Rep. Ron Paul got one.
RNC members have been slowly embracing Romney. He picked up 11 new endorsements since the last AP survey a month ago, after the Super Tuesday contests. Over the course of the campaign, however, Romney methodically has added endorsements from every region of the country.
Seventy-two RNC delegates said they were either undecided or not ready to make a public endorsement. Many said they are eager for the nomination fight to end so the party can focus on defeating President Obama in November.