Morning Joe talk show host Joe Scarborough says there's still time left for a new GOP candidate to enter the race after almost half the states have held primaries or caucuses, and it just might save the party this election.
Scarborough, a Republican and former Florida congressman, told the Today Show's Ann Curry Thursday morning that the GOP is headed for a historic defeat come November if the four candidates competing right now -- Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich -- are the only options out there.
If I were the head of the Republican National Committee I would be on the phone with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie every day and say 'I know you're uncomfortable, I know you don't want to do this right now, I know the timing is not right, but you have a responsibility to your party and to your nation to get engaged, Scarborough said.
In addition to former Florida Gov. Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Scarborough floated the name of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
The plea by a Republican as widely watched and followed as Scarborough for someone new is yet another sign that Super Tuesday failed to help the fractured GOP party rally around a candidate.
Talk about a new Republican candidate jumping in the primary has been buzzing since January, but the fact it's still happening at this point is a rarity in political history. Super Tuesday usually reveals party's eventual nominee, but the results of the caucuses and primaries of ten states ended up proving this race is going to be a long one.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney won the most states (six) and the most delegates (current total: 419), but didn't do well enough to give him a clear path to the nomination. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took the three midland states of North Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma (current total delegate count: 178) and spooked the Romney campaign with a nail-bitingly close race in Ohio, where he lost by one percentage point.
Even former House Speaker Gingrich, who only won his home state of Georgia, and Ron Paul, who has yet to win a contest but did surprisingly well with 40 percent in Virginia, vowed to soldier on. All four candidates are very far away from even half of the 1,144 delegates needed ahead of the Republican National Convention in August to get picked to face President Barack Obama in the general election.
The Romney campaign said Wednesday it would take an act of God for them not to seal the deal as the GOP nominee, but Scarborough said the former Massachusetts governor is acting too confident.
They'd have to take 50 percent of the delegates from here to [the Republican National Convention in] Tampa to get over the top, he said. With four people in the race, and with chances very good that Mitt Romney is going to lose Alabama, gonna lose Mississippi, gonna lose Kansas, gonna lose a lot of states over the next week or two -- I wouldn't be going around showing that map.
Scarborough also cited an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that showed a major gender gap among voters and an unpopularity among Hispanics (14% said they would vote for any of the candidates) -- another two factors that are bad news for Republicans. Super Tuesday exit polls showed that Romney may be in the lead, but he still struggles with conservatives with lower income brackets and those who are less concerned about electability over Obama -- those votes went to Santorum.
Bush and Ryan said no to a presidential run last summer, while Christie flat out denied it in a press conference in October. Ryan and Christie both cited their family as one of the reasons they're sitting out 2012.