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Caliendo: Time To Think About Convention, General Election With Santorum Out

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum has withdrawn from the Republican presidential race. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Rick Santorum withdrew from the Republican presidential race Tuesday, and political analyst Stephen Caliendo says Mitt Romney will now be thinking about the general election and picking a running mate.

As the remaining primaries are concerned, Caliendo says it’s smooth sailing for Mitt Romney – for the most part.

“He might have some bumps next month, you know, you have some southern states, if Newt Gingrich decides to stay in it, there could be some challenges,” Caliendo said. “But it looks like he’s in pretty good shape; he was in pretty good shape yesterday.”

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich remains in the race – even though he said Saturday that he is resigned to a Romney victory, and he forgot to pay the primary fee in Utah. But at this point, Caliendo said, Gingrich may have other motivations other than a chance at the nomination.

“We talked about Ron Paul a little bit earlier in the cycle. Sometimes you want to stay in because you get to speak at the convention if you have delegates pledged to you,” Caliendo said.

At some point soon, the other candidates will have to release their delegates so they can support Romney, Caliendo said.

“I mean, we’re going to talk about vice presidential candidates, of course, but we also have to talk about when these candidates are going to release their delegates, because they’ve collected delegates along the way. Those delegates are pledged to them. They’re supposed to support them at the convention. At some point in this cycle, they will release them, which means they’ll be free to support Mitt Romney,” Caliendo said. “The timing of that becomes important.”

As for vice presidential candidates, many names are being bandied about.

“It’s tricky. It’s always tough to sort of make these guesses, because you think about regionality – he might want to pick somebody from the South; maybe somebody from Florida – Marco Rubio; I heard Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s name kicked around from Texas – of course, she’s a woman as well – Nikki Haley from South Carolina,” Caliendo said. “We also have some local candidates; some more regional candidates that might get our attention. We also have some local candidates; some more regional candidates that might get our attention.”

CBS 2’s Kris Gutierrez pointed out U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as possible Midwestern choices for Romney’s running mate.

“Again, you might want to think about regionality. You don’t want to get somebody who’s not from the South if he’s going to have trouble in the South. On the other hand, those folks have some attraction for other reasons,” Caliendo said.