The Illinois primary is now in the books as a Romney win. This was a significant state; if Santorum had won it, he would have made a major stride toward his goal of reversing the delegate math. As it is, Santorum’s path to the nomination has become virtually . . . well, I was going to say “impossible,” but I don’t want to go quite that far. Nevertheless, the odds are now more against it than a week ago, even if he pulls out Louisiana later this week.

The media, aided by the Romney campaign, played up a comment by Santorum that made it appear he didn’t care about the unemployment rate. We all know how easy it is to pull a phrase out of an entire explanation and twist the intent. That’s what the Romney team did in this case. Santorum’s full statement was “My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.”

Romney should know how a statement can be taken out of context. Remember when he said he wasn’t concerned about the very poor, and the firestorm that created for a while? Well, I knew he meant that the very poor were already being taken care of by current policies, and that he wanted to help everyone. I didn’t criticize him for that. Neither should he and his team have taken a cheap shot at Santorum for his unemployment rate comment. It’s typical campaign dishonesty.

What did Santorum mean? His concern is more broad-based. He sees the overall trend in American society—the destruction of the traditional family, the loss of Judeo-Christian morality, the war for religious liberty, the over-extension of government power, etc.—and realizes these are the root causes of our economic woes. He also has made it clear that if Republicans hang their election hopes on bad economic numbers only, that they will be vulnerable if those numbers change for the better. It’s the difference between being principle-oriented vs. doing whatever is expedient to win a single election cycle.

I will always side with those who understand and promote the basic principles that serve as salt and light for a nation.

What Republicans are now poised to do, by choosing Romney, is to reenact the debacle of former nominees such as Bob Dole and John McCain. I’m also hearing the same refrain as I heard in 2008 when Huckabee continued the race against McCain when it seemed as if he couldn’t win. We were told he needed to withdraw so the party could coalesce around the inevitable nominee. Forgive me, but I still believe Huckabee would have been the better candidate. McCain’s campaign was dreadful; the only spark he ever got was when he added Palin to the ticket.

If Romney does pull this off, the only way he’ll gain any conservative enthusiasm for his campaign is if he makes a very solid and wise choice for his vice president. If he opts for another middle-of-the-roader, he will find it difficult to get the grassroots support he will need. There will still be a lot of us who will vote for him, but only because another Obama term is unthinkable. But that’s not the same as heartfelt support for the nominee.

I do believe Romney can defeat Obama, but then I worry that we will have Obama-light. Sometimes when you win in the short term, you lose overall. Will he really overturn Obamacare? Will he make good choices for the Supreme Court? I could go on. These remain large questions in my mind.