Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Candy's Take: Why they keep running

By Candy Crowley, CNN
updated 8:49 PM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Ron Paul (from left), Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are seated during their February 22 debate in Mesa, Arizona.
Ron Paul (from left), Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are seated during their February 22 debate in Mesa, Arizona.
  • In GOP presidential race, Mitt Romney is racking up the most delegates
  • Candy Crowley explains why his rivals may choose to stay in the race
  • They may stay to secure speaking slot at convention or for higher visibility, she says
  • Crowley: They may be running to promote a specific idea or doctrine

Editor's note: CNN's chief political correspondent and anchor Candy Crowley offers an occasional, candid take on the news of the day that others might miss. Check out "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley each Sunday starting at 9 a.m. and noon ET on CNN.

Washington (CNN) -- I don't know if Newt Gingrich should, will or even is thinking about getting out of the presidential race. Ditto for Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. I do know there are practical, political and one very big human reason that candidates stay in races past the time many think they should get out.

Despite Mitt Romney having a sizable delegate lead on his rivals, they might not be going anywhere.

Track the candidates on CNN's delegate counter

They might want something from whoever wins -- a speaking slot at the convention or a specific plank in the party platform. The more delegates you have, the greater your power to affect convention issues.

They may want the attention, keeping their profile up for future book sales or speaking fees. Remember, every place they go (almost), local cameras are there and will talk about candidate X on the local news, not to mention the constant national television presence.

They may be a message candidate, anxious to use the limelight to promote a specific issue or doctrine (think anti-war presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and 2008).

You know the saying "hope springs eternal"? Yes it does.

Improbable does not mean impossible. Hundreds of "what ifs" swirl through a campaign on life support.

"What if the front-runner says something really egregious and his numbers plummet? Then I'll be there. What if I change our message? My strategy? What if my ship comes in tomorrow?"

Finally, regardless of what you think of politicians, they are human beings.

They have worked for years or decades to get where they are, and the 2012 presidential campaign began long before most people were paying the least bit of attention. It has been a long, hard slog. They've dreamed of being president.

If you have ever had to let go of a dream, then you know how hard it is. The first stage is denial.

Part of complete coverage on
Get all the latest news at CNN's Election Center. There are race updates, a delegate counter and much more.
A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
updated 1:41 PM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
Democratic and Republican congressional leaders continue to sharply disagree over the key issue of whether top tax rates should be raised to help resolve the looming crisis.
updated 2:24 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
In a historic turnaround, the ballot box is showing America's shifting attitudes about same-sex marriage.
Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
updated 4:19 AM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
updated 9:27 AM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.
updated 7:34 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2012
Democrats will retain their control of the Senate after winning several closely contested races on Tuesday.