The stumbling start of Newt Gingrich and the withdrawals of Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump from the presidential race have boosted Mitt Romney’s standing in the Republican nominating contest, while opening lanes for other candidates to jump in.
The exit of Mr. Huckabee, who led in some recent opinion polls, looks set to firm up Mr. Romney’s status as the putative GOP favorite. As if to underscore that point, the Romney camp said it raised nearly $10.3 million Monday in a one-day fund-raising event in Las Vegas, a pace other candidates are unlikely to match.
But top Republicans continue to push others to enter the race, reflecting unease among some that the GOP still lacks a candidate well positioned to excite the Republican base or challenge President Barack Obama.
A group of GOP governors, including Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, continue to encourage Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to jump in, arguing that his state-budget hawkishness would match the national mood. Mr. Daniels told reporters Tuesday that he expects to decide soon.
Meanwhile, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin revived speculation about a possible run when her political action committee mailed out 400,000 fund-raising solicitations this week titled, “2012 Can’t Come Fast Enough.” Palin advisers described the mailing as part of a continuing fund-raising appeal.
Mr. Huckabee’s departure appears to have energized at least one potential candidacy, with advisers to Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota saying the tea-party favorite is all but certain now to make a presidential run.