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Keller @ Large: Laugh Off Romney At Your Own Peril

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Mitt Romney in Boston, March 6, 2012. (Photo credit EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney in Boston, March 6, 2012. (Photo credit EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Rick Santorum had his opportunity.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

He surprised everyone by winning in Iowa, and if he’d gone straight to South Carolina and capitalized on the reactionary mood of the voters there, he might have generated a real head of steam.

But Santorum let his ego get the better of him.

He wasted time and money in New Hampshire while Newt Gingrich was camping out in South Carolina, wasted more time and money in Florida, and blew his chance to reach out beyond his arch-conservative base with foolish comments and forays into subjects most voters had little interest in.

This is the value of campaigns, excruciatingly long, expensive ordeals for all concerned that do have a way for exposing the true character of the candidates involved, for better and for worse.

This campaign revealed Santorum to be feisty and a hard worker, but also a hothead lacking superior discipline.

So, what has the campaign told us about the all-but-presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney?

Nothing we here in Massachusetts didn’t already know.

For starters, that he is a man of relentless ambition who will do whatever it takes to execute his game plan.

And, if you get in his way or incur his displeasure, you are in trouble.

You can add the names of Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and company to those of Jane Swift, Bill Bulger, Matt Amorello, and others who ran afoul of Romney back here.

We have seen that Romney remains a work in progress, capable of improvement as a debater and campaigner.

And we know that he’s smart and decent, just like the president he will now try to unseat.

For the third time in the last 24 years, a major-party nominee for president will be a Massachusetts politician.

If you go back to 1960, it’s the fourth time.

(Insert your own joke here.)

But one thing I can tell America for certain – you will laugh off Mitt Romney’s chances of winning at your own peril.

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