Its editors want a Romney-versus-Santorum race. Its readers are still unhappy with their options.

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The flagship publication of the conservative movement is urging Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race for the GOP nomination. "It would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee," National Review's editorial board opined Monday. "It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride." They go on to note that "when he led... he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit."

The comments section is what one would expect from a rank-and-file without a champion. Everyone is attuned to the myriad weaknesses of their choices and therefore unable to argue for anyone very persuasively. For example, here's the beginning of a comment by a Gingrich supporter. "Yes, Gingrich is arrogant and full of himself. Yes, he has an unpleasant past. Yes, he has too many ideas instead of being Reaganesque and concentrating on the few big ones that matter. Yes, he can't seem to run a good organization," the former House speaker's fan admits. "But he is the only one who tells it like it is. He is the only one to call Obama a Saul Alinsky radical."

Wrote another commenter:

Our choices still stink: Romney - He is clearly uncomfortable with his wealth, which Obama will exploit. Obama will hammer him as a "rich white guy". Organization alone won't win the Presidency.... Just ask Hillary. His passionate defenses of abortion rights are seared into my memory.
Gingrich - His attacks on Romney over Bain were very disconcerting. When he gets down or defensive he seems childish in his attacks. Gingrich's debating strength will be completely nullified by Obama who will heavily control the debate rules. There will only be two instead of 17. I won't forget the Pelosi commercial either, because global warming is such a fraud and Gingrich bought into it. The divorces: if he can't keep a vow before God to his wife, what makes us think he'll keep a campaign promise!?

Santorum - More than just the left have viewed his as a social issues candidate. His economic messages are government involvement, not of tea-party laissez-faire. I'm certainly not confident he'll drastically cut gov't spending. We'll hear how his plan will reduce the deficit to $500 B in 2020. Also haven't seen how he reacts when he is under intense fire.

Paul - Why oh why do you have to fall off the deep end on foriegn issues? Going on Iranian TV to bash Israel? A lot of other things he says are so great. If my state's primary (Texas) was held today, I'm not sure who I would vote for. Right now, I'm an anyone but Gingrich guy. 
Other folks attacked Romney over his time at Bain Capital in comments of a sort I never thought I'd see at National Review Online.

For example:

If NRO wanted to contribute something positive they would stop treating Mitt Romney as the "Father of Capitalism" and recognize predatory capitalism that takes the remaining value of companies and ships it overseas leaving destitution behind is NOT a VIRTUE.

Any outside the beltway conservative who has friends, family, and business partners who have suffered from predatory capitalism can attest to that. Romney is not a creator like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Andrew Carnegie. He is a destroyer and is perceived that way - not because he re-capitalize companies - a virtue; but because his deals left more destitution in their wake than improved livlihoods except for Mitt and his friends. And Romneybots, Bain accomplished this predatory capitalism with the help of government bailouts and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) - the Fannie Mae of Pensions.

In the past, the GOP has always managed to rally around its eventual nominee. I wonder if that longstanding pattern will hold.

Image credit: Reuters

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