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Romney Closes In On Lead After Attacks On Gingrich

Paige Brettingen |
January 24, 2012 | 9:28 a.m. PST

Executive Producer


Mitt Romney (Creative Commons, Gage Skidmore)
Mitt Romney (Creative Commons, Gage Skidmore)
It was the Romney-Newt show in Florida Monday night.  And it's plain to see that neither of the candidates will be going through the sunshine state quietly- at least not when talking about each other.

After his defeat in South Carolina, Mitt Romney went to Florida with the aim to "return fire."  And he made that clear Monday night as he came in swinging during the NBC debate, launching attacks at Gingrich.

From Joe Klein of TIME:

For his part, Romney leveled the attacks without seeming unhinged. He was persistent without seeming persnickity. And almost all the charges he leveled against Gingrich had a basis in truth–Newt did sign a contract with the lobbying arm of Freddie Mac, he did get kicked out as Speaker by his Republican caucus, he did do the famous cap-and-trade sofa ad with Nancy Pelosi, he has been something less than a model of consistency.

Focusing on Gingrich's role as a historian for Freddie Mac during the housing collapse, Romney took heat away from the millions he had saved in tax returns and instead inquired about the $1.6 million Gingrich had secured "while people in Florida were being hurt by millions of dollars."

To the audience's chagrin and laughter, Newt volleyed the question back to Romney and asked what Romney's gain was during those years to which Romney replied "very substantial."

It was one of the few times the audience made any verbal response, having been asked to withhold their reactions by moderator Brian Williams- a vastly different scene than the South Carolina CNN debate.

Santorum had been as quiet as the audience and realized toward the end of the debate that he needed to step up:

From CNN:

  • Desperately in need of a game-changing performance, Santorum nonetheless seemed to take a backseat for much of the rest of the night. One of his two real moments on offense came as he was playing defense. When asked about his fellow Republicans' attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital, Santorum pointed out that he hasn't gone after Romney. Then he went after Romney.
  • "My question to Gov. Romney and to Speaker Gingrich -- if you believe in capitalism that much, then why did you support the bailout of Wall Street?" Santorum asked.

According to Talking Points Memo, the fourth and newest Florida polling numbers show that Romney is inching past Gingrich slightly, 34% to 32%.  Rick Santorum is at 9% and Ron Paul, 8%.


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