Time for some GOP candidates to call it a day

Freedom New Mexico

The TV networks declared Mitt Romney the winner in New Hampshire about five seconds after the polls closed, so commentators had to scramble to find something interesting to say the rest of the night. It wasn’t easy. Mr. Romney had been expected to win Tuesday’s GOP primary and did. Jon Huntsman tried for an upset that didn’t happen. Rick Santorum’s post-Iowa sizzle fizzled.

And then there was Ron Paul. The libertarian congressman from Texas came in second, then delivered a rousing speech to wildly enthusiastic supporters. If TV’s talking heads had listened closely, they could’ve found the nuggets of news they were seeking.

Namely, it seems Rep. Paul doesn’t actually expect to win. Maybe he never did.

His speech contained not a single line about becoming president, moving into the White House or even securing his party’s nomination. Instead, it was all about — in his words — an “intellectual revolution” and “a victory for the cause of liberty.”

Does this mean Rep. Paul’s real goal is to become sort of an adviser to the powerful, a wise old sage to be consulted on matters of liberty, limited government and the Constitution? If it is, we wish him luck. He’ll need it.

Here’s one reason why. A key part of Rep. Paul’s vision is that the Defense Department must be scaled back, along with everything else in the federal government. But Mr. Romney, in his own speech to supporters Tuesday night, promised a bigger and stronger U.S. military, essentially taking the idea of defense cuts off the table.

That no doubt sounds good to military personnel and defense contractors. But it also means that if Mitt Romney becomes president, he and Ron Paul won’t have much to talk together about.

So Rep. Paul’s future as a Republican candidate, and even as a Republican idea man, is still fuzzy.

One final note: It’s time for some of the low scorers in this contest, such as Mr. Santorum and Rick Perry, to call it a day. At this point, we’d rather see the GOP’s top choice campaigning against President Obama than watch a gaggle of grudge-nursing GOP wannabes campaigning against one another.