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By CNN's Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) – Because we’ve seen so many ups and downs in this race for the Republican presidential nomination, I’d like to recommend that we all take a deep breath and let the process fully play itself out.
I say this because so many pundits already assume that Mitt Romney has it in the bag. He certainly is a front-runner for the nomination, but he’s not there yet.
There are still plenty of Republicans who don’t want him to face President Barack Obama.
For months, they’ve been looking for an alternative – “a non-Romney,” if you will – and they are still struggling to find that candidate.
If Romney wins in New Hampshire, as he almost certainly will, and then wins in South Carolina – as is possible given the fact that the conservative vote will be split among several candidates – he will be well on his way to winning the nomination. Remember, John McCain won in South Carolina because Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson split the very conservative vote.
Romney has a solid organization and lots of money, additionally backed by cash-heavy super PACs that will be very active in going after any Republican deemed a threat to the former Massachusetts governor. They did a powerful job in hurting Newt Gingrich in Iowa, and they are ready to continue the assault.
But money isn’t everything. Just take a look at Rick Santorum’s remarkable come-from-nothing success in Iowa.
He came in a very, very close second (eight votes) by campaigning the old-fashioned way. He visited all 99 counties and met with lots of Iowa Republicans.
As other candidates faded, including Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, he moved up and is now energized to follow-up in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. He’s raising money and building an organization, but it’s no where near what Romney has.
As far as Perry is concerned, I don’t understand why he’s staying in Texas on Thursday and Friday if he’s really serious about running for the nomination. Assuming he has no chance in New Hampshire, he should at least be doing town hall meetings in South Carolina. There may be only a few days left in this process, and every one of those days counts.