White Knight Candidate Rescuing GOP Presidential Race From Possible Romney, Santorum Possible: Experts

Mitt Romney’s squeaker of a victory in his home state of Michigan has done nothing to quiet his doubters.

Though it's too late for a new candidate to get on many primary ballots, he — or she — could still theoretically win enough delegates to force a contested convention, at which a nominee would be selected through political horse-trading and deal-making.

Meanwhile, there are fears Santorum's social views, especially on abortion and contraception, are too extreme to win him the independent votes he needs to beat President Obama come November.

And if neither Santorum nor Romney lands a knockout blow on Super Tuesday -- when more than 400 delegates are up for grabs, it leaves room for a new candidate to enter the race, said several political experts.

"Santorum must win Ohio and become the preferred candidate in the South," GOP strategist Ford O'Connell told the Daily News. "Romney is really wounded right now coming out of Michigan."

David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, echoed that sentiment.

"If Romney doesn't win Ohio and doesn't perform well in the South, it shows he's unelectable in November," he said.

In total, 1,144 delegates are needed for a candidate to seal the nomination. So far, Romney has 163, Santorum has 83, Newt Gingrich has 32 and Ron Paul has 19.

So what names are being tossed around? And what are the possibilities?

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and son of former president George Bush.

Potential downfall: "He'd probably be the nominee if his last name wasn't Bush," said O'Connell.

Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana.

Potential downfall: "I'm not sure he wants to go through that headache, otherwise he would have entered right from the beginning," O'Connell said.

Read more from Alyiah Shahid at the New York Daily News


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published this page in In The News 2012-02-29 12:00:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy