TAMPA —The prospect of a volatile, contested 2012 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum would have been thrilling.
For a while it looked plausible that Mitt Romney might fail to win the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, as Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul kept vowing to stay in the race until the end.
Forget it. The media may still frequently refer to Romney as the "presumptive" or "likely" Republican nominee, but he's the nominee. Gingrich and Santorum have suspended their campaigns, Paul has mostly stopped campaigning, and nobody is speculating about a dramatic floor fight any longer.
The Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign have been working hand in hand for weeks, and even Paul, the libertarian Texas congressman, lately sounds more interested in ensuring that his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, remains in the good graces of the GOP establishment than in causing any problems for Romney in Tampa.
So the nominee will be Romney, 65, the former Massachusetts governor, a Mormon father of five sons, the co-founder of Bain Capital, educated at Brigham Young (bachelor's) and Harvard (M.B.A.), married to wife Ann since 1969.
And 100 days from the convention, it's a neck-and-neck race in Florida and nationally between Romney and President Barack Obama.