Romney strategist: Nomination close to ‘impossibility’ for Santorum and Gingrich

Holly Bailey

BOSTON—Mitt Romney's campaign insists it will be "increasingly difficult" for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich to catch up with their candidate in the race for delegates in the Republican nomination race.

In a briefing with reporters the day after Romney won six of the Super Tuesday contests, including Ohio, senior Romney advisers argued that it's almost statistically impossible for Santorum or Gingrich to catch their boss in the primary.

"Any way you slice it, it was a damn good night for us," a senior Romney strategist, who declined to be named on the record, said. There's "a pretty good case that the nomination is an impossibility for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich."

According to the aide, Romney needs to win 48 percent of the remaining delegates in the race to win the nomination, whereas Santorum would have to win 65 percent of delegates and Newt Gingrich 70 percent.

And the campaign argued that it would be a "steep uphill climb" and an "insurmountable task" for Romney's rivals to win the 1,144 delegates needed, in part because there aren't many states left that offer "huge chunks" of delegates, as Florida, Ohio and Arizona did.

"The calendar now only offers incremental opportunities to make headway," Rich Beeson, Romney's political director, argued in a memo provided to reporters.

In the briefing, a Romney aide was far more dramatic in his assessment, telling reporters it will take "an act of God" for Romney's rivals to catch up.

"All we have to do is keep doing what we are doing," the senior Romney aide said. "They would have to over-perform in ways they have so far not performed at all."

Still, the campaign acknowledged Romney is unlikely to win some upcoming contests, including many in the deep South where rural voters have been more supportive of Gingrich and Santorum. While they declined to talk specifically about upcoming states including Mississippi and Alabama, a strategist said Romney will do fine if he comes in second place—as he did last night in Tennessee and Georgia—and wins delegates in every state.

Aides attempted to push back on the perception that Romney is struggling to win support from a broad base of the party, noting that exit polls in Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere found that Romney won with tea party supporters and social conservatives concerned about the economy.

Speaking about Romney's narrow victory in Ohio, a senior Romney aide cast it as a major win for the campaign, noting that Romney had never appeared on the ballot there and that he had been an underdog in the race there from the very beginning. The aide cast the Ohio win as a come-from-behind victory for Romney—and a sign that the party is beginning to coalesce around the ex-governor's campaign.

Asked about the campaign's resources, a spokeswoman revealed Romney had raised $11.5 million in February, the second best fundraising month of his campaign. The spokeswoman declined to comment on the candidate's cash on hand.

More popular Yahoo! News stories:

Up next for Santorum: Get Gingrich out, barnstorm the South

What to watch for Wednesday in politics

Super Tuesday: Romney wins Ohio, but Santorum vows to fight on

Want more of our best political stories? Visit The Ticket or connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us on Tumblr. Handy with a camera? Join our Election 2012 Flickr group to submit your photos of the campaign in action.