Not sure I agree with this:
As we all await tonight's debate in New Hampshire, it becomes clear that those of us who understand the necessity to unseat Barack Obama have a lot to worry about. Mitt Romney is still leading the pack, and is ahead even in the South Carolina polls. But the momentum of Rick Santorum's challenge and the no-holds-barred attacks on Romney coming from Newt Gingrich (Gingrich regularly refers to Romney as the “Massachusetts moderate”) are taking their tolls.
Even the liberal columnist Joe Klein writes respectfully of Santorum, a candidate whose brand of social conservatism he strongly disagrees with. The man “lives his faith,” Klein writes, and he thinks that Santorum “will pose a significant working-class challenge to Romney's corporate conservatism.”
Santorum will not win the nomination, and neither will Newt Gingrich. But the problem is that with many Republicans and especially self-proclaimed conservatives not being enthusiastic about Romney, as Klein writes, he “may not inspire sufficient numbers of Republicans to come out and vote.” The result, then, will be a second term for Barack Obama.
The party out of power has to pick a nominee and that means fighting with each other before fighting with the incumbent; that's just the way it works. The process today is helping Republicans decide how far out they want to go toward purist conservatism or how far back to a more moderate position. This will determine not just how they run for the White House and how a Republican might govern but where the party will go in future years.
Remember, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went through such a bruising primary battle that lasted so long that Indiana's May primary actually still mattered. That didn't seem to hurt Obama much; in fact it probably made him a stronger opponent against John McCain.
What would critics such as this prefer, that everybody just stand back so Romney can sail to the nomination? That's certainly not helpful for voters, and I don't think it would do the Republicans much good, either.