It’s off-reported line that there is no “next in line” for 2016 as there was in 2012 when Mitt Romney was viewed as the runner up John McCain or in 2008 when John Mccain had been runner-up to George W. Bush or 1996 when Bob Dole was runner up to George H.W. Bush or in 1988 when Bush was runner up and VP to Reagan.
Apparently, there was no second place finisher that won as many primary contests as Romney did in 2008. But of course there was. Rick Santorum won 11 states, I’m not saying that Rick Santorum should be the candidate who is nominated in 2016 based on 2012 performance, but if “next in line” is based on a strong second place finish, Santorum would seem to qualify.
However, the reason, Santorum isn’t identified as “next in line” is that he’s not an establishment Republican and ultimately that’s what GOP insiders have meant with the “next in line” candidate. It’s the next member of the Republican Establishment who lost but is in line to do what establishment candidates do by pandering mindlessly and coming up short on election day rather than standing for principle.
In a way, Santorum and other conservative candidates should be glad not to be seen standing in that line.