For the GOP, Risks in Narrowing the Field Too Quickly After New Hampshire Primary

Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump during Saturday's debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.

By JULEANNA GLOVER – – – –

After months of political coverage and speculation about Donald Trump, the political world is focused on New Hampshire. Whatever the outcome of today’s primary, Republicans risk undermining their chances of winning the White House if they push hard to narrow the field right away.

The question of the past several months has been: Is Trumpism consuming conservatism? In the wake of the Iowa caucuses, however, Republicans are considering something more relevant to November: Which GOP candidate has the best chance of beating the Democratic nominee, winning the White House, and being a strong commander in chief?

We are effectively seven days into the serious assessment-of-the-candidates phase, a process that in past campaign cycles has gone on for months. Mr. Trump consumed a lot of oxygen in this process the past several months​, but hisloss in the Iowa caucuses ended the fear that Mr. Trump could destroy the Republican Party.Marco Rubio had grabbed the spotlight, but much attention in the past 36 hours has gone to the governors and former governors in the race. With other candidates rising, voters can see who chokes in the thinner air that comes with higher poll numbers.

GOP voters in more blue-hued states get their say on March 1 (Super Tuesday) and March 15. Having some patience with the process so more voters can see which candidates can withstand intense and extended scrutiny gives Republicans a better chance of choosing a nominee they won’t regret in the fall.

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