Mitt Romney is the only adult in the room

After Rick Perry's abysmal debate and Herman Cain's transparently false sexual harassment defense, it's more clear than ever that Romney's the one

Robert Shrum

Six weeks ago, I wrote that in the GOP race for the presidential nomination, Mitt Romney's the one — mostly because the other candidates have proved to be implausible or utterly inconceivable. And after Wednesday's Michigan debate, we now know with even more certainty who the Republican nominee will be. His name is not Rick Perry, whose potential comeback imploded in an excruciating, alternately comical and pathetic 50 seconds that left an indelible impression of someone out of his depth — and all but out of the race.

A few million people watched the debate; perhaps 50 million had seen the excruciating 50 seconds by the next day. Perry, who initially led the race when he entered as the true conservative alternative to Romney, has biffed, farbled, and gaffed his way into the now inescapable status of an also-ran. It's over. When Perry was on that stage in Michigan, I was in a room with top Republican pros. One of them read a tweet out loud: "Campaign office furniture in Austin, Texas, now available on Craigslist."

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.