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Gingrich VS. Romney: GOP Braces For An Ugly Florida Race

Benjamin Gottlieb |
January 22, 2012 | 7:48 p.m. PST

Executive Editor

Romney takes aim at Gingrich heading into Florida (Creative Commons).
Romney takes aim at Gingrich heading into Florida (Creative Commons).
Three GOP primaries, three different victors.

With former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's convincing victory in South Carolina this past weekend, the GOP race for the presidential nomination is now anybody's game. No longer are pundits calling Mitt Romney the eventual GOP nominee for 2012. 

Former U.S. Senator and outspoken social conservative Rick Santorum took Iowa by a nose. And while Romney defended home court in New Hampshire, he was humbled by his loss this past weekend in South Carolina to Gingrich.

Let the mudslinging begin.

Speaking at a rally in Ormond Beach, Florida on Sunday, Romney was on the offensive against Gingrich specifically, a tactic likely to consume the coming weeks of the primary.

“We’re not choosing a talk show host,” Romney said at the rally. “We’re choosing the person who should be the leader of the free world.”

Taking aim at Gingrich, Romney also lambasted the former Speaker's leadership capabilities.

“Speaker Gingrich has also been a leader,” Romney told the Washington Post.  “At the end of four years, it was proven that he was a failed leader, and he had to resign in disgrace. I don’t know whether you knew that. He actually resigned after four years in disgrace.”

Sunday's comments are sure to be followed up by a series of negative ads from both camps.

From the Washington Post:

Heading to Florida, the two front-runners drew their battle lines for a debate Monday night, when Romney will be under intense pressure to blunt Gingrich’s momentum and do what has long eluded him: capture the enthusiasm of the Republican base.

Gingrich did so last week in South Carolina, but the challenge for the former House speaker is to stir the same passion in the far more populous and politically diverse state of Florida, where expensive media markets require deep pockets and where Romney’s well-financed campaign has been blanketing the airwaves for weeks.

So can Romney right the ship in Florida?

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard thinks Romney needs a "big idea" to regain momentum in the increasingly turbulent GOP race.

From the Weekly Standard:

He has plenty of things to choose from. The world’s biggest issue is government debt, and Obama just tacked another $1.2 trillion on the national debt.


Since Reagan’s time, supply side economics and tax reform have been Republican dogma. Romney could concentrate on those, instead of his wimpy proposal to cut the tax on dividends and capital gains for households with less than $200,000 in income.

Romney does have a robust initiative on curbing entitlements, the biggest cause of rising debt. It’s been praised by Paul Ryan, the popular Republican policy thinker. But you don’t hear Romney say much about it.


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