Ron Paul (from left), Rick Santorum,  Mitt Romney  and Newt Gingrich are seated during their February 22 debate in Mesa, Arizona.
AFP/Getty Images
Ron Paul (from left), Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are seated during their February 22 debate in Mesa, Arizona.

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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.