What has the long primary march gained the GOP?

Both Romney and Santorum gave strong speeches tonight, primary night in Michigan and Arizona. Both are focusing their indictments of the president: Santorum zeroing in on the administration’s anti-energy policy and the decline of manufacturing as a proportion of jobs; Romney going after spending, debt and growth broadly.

Both have understood that the GOP can’t sit back and wait for the president’s miserable performance to bring him down all by itself. A candidate must define his opponent’s failure, then use that as a springboard to defining an alternative.

Everyone is saying that the long contest has been bad for the GOP. But none of the candidates had shaped and internalized these messages event four weeks ago. So in this long march something may have been lost, but something has also been gained.

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