Tony Katz

Mitt Romney missed a chance to wrap up the GOP nomination last night, placing a disappointing third in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries. The delegate count is still in his favor, but the bigger story here is that the "front runner" lost to both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. This means only one thing - we need another debate.

This news will be hard to take for the establishment. But what isn't hard to take for the establishment when they don't get their way? (Their way, of course, being you accept Romney and shut the hell up already!) The reality is that the American people don't yet have a candidate, and they reject the "electability" argument. They agree with Santorum's view that the establishment, with support from the media, is telling us that Romney is our only option.

Romney has more than double Santorum’s delegates and triple Gingrich’s, but he still can’t deliver a knockout blow. After five years and untold millions of dollars, he still can’t win in the South. Florida notwithstanding (and Florida, in the minds of many, doesn’t count as South), Romney has lost Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Louisiana is coming up fast.

The Romney campaign downplays these losses:

"It's all about getting more delegates," Romney told reporters Tuesday as he campaigned in Missouri, which holds caucuses Saturday. His campaign said he met his goal of claiming a third of the delegates up for grabs Tuesday.

So the goal of the frontrunner was to get a third of the delegates?

Delegates matter. The prize is 1144 delegates, enough to clinch the nomination. Each time the “front runner” comes in third, there’s less chance he will reach that magic number prior to the GOP convention.

What Romney needs – and he’s not the only one – is a debate. Romney needs a debate more than he needs oxygen, Kid Rock or Jeff “you might be a redneck” Foxworthy.

Sure, his lead is big, but it's not big enough. With every third place finish the "front runner" has, the closer he gets to a decision being made for him at the convention. Does Romney really want to risk that? A debate can remove the risk, and allow him to - AGAIN! - restate his electability case to America.

Tony Katz

Tony Katz is a radio talk show host, writer, public speaker and cigar enthusiast. His show can be heard on 93.1FM WIBC in Indianapolis, and at