Now that the Florida Primary is here, the candidates have been blitzing the airwaves with negativity in order to come out on top. The trend looks set to continue for a long time to come as they use the time-tested method of slating your opponent in order to win.
Aside from Florida voters, the most important endorsement of all cam from a certain rapper. He accompanied his endorsement with a recommendation from his singular policy standpoint to ease the tensions on the rest of the campaign.
And finally, Mitt Romney has been giving President Obama a run for his money with his ability to serenade an audience...
Rick Santorum was interviewed tonight on the results of the Florida primary — at a campaign appearance in Nevada, where he has been campaigning after he abandoned the Florida campaign last week.
Dana Bash asked Santorum why he had left Florida.
“Because we realized in a winner-take-all race like Florida, where millions of dollars were going to be spent, we were not in a position to compete on a financial basis at this point,” said Santorum. “We had a great financial — fundraising month. We raised almost four-and-a-half million in the month of January, and our fundraising numbers are incredibly strong today.
“People are starting to realize now, and they’re seeing the results here in Florida, that you know Newt Gingrich had his chance, had his shot. He had a big boost and a win out of South Carolina — and couldn’t hold it, couldn’t deliver in Florida. I think they’re gonna be looking for a different conservative as an alternative to Mitt Romney now.”
Florida has gone from the state where former House Speaker Newt Gingrich might have extended his run at the Republican presidential nomination, to the place where the rules of political physics were exemplified.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost the South Carolina primary in a big way. He allowed Gingrich to outflank him on the right, as the former Speaker dominated the debates and made Romney look silly on his then-unreleased tax returns. Romney clumsily answered questions about an issue that most Republican primary voters see as an asset: his wealth. The two went back and forth on TV -- Gingrich with the help of a super PAC with a five million dollar contribution from Las Vegas Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and Romney with the same ample bankroll he's had all along. And then Gingrich won by 13 points.
Newt took that lead and extended it into Florida -- until electoral gravity took its toll.
Mitt Romney aimed at President Obama in his victory speech after the Florida primary.
“Our plans protect freedom and opportunity — and our blueprint is the Constitution of the United States,” said Romney. “Together, we will build an America where ‘hope’ is a new job with a paycheck — not a faded word on an old bumper-sticker.”
Mitt Romney started his victory speech in the Florida primary with a notably conciliatory tone — and seemed to be prepared for a possible long primary season ahead. It was a contrast from his speech three weeks ago in New Hampshire, when he sounded virtually like a presumptive nominee.
“Thank you to the people in this room, and the people all over Florida. Thank you tonight for this great victory,” said Romney. “There are fewer candidates tonight than when the race began. But three gentlemen are serious and able competitors, and they’re still in the race, and I want to congratulate them on another hard fought contest in this campaign.
“Primary contests are not easy. And they’re not supposed to be. As this primary unfolds, our opponents in the other party have been watching, and they like to comfort themselves with the thought that a competitive campaign will leave us divided and weak. But I’ve got news for them, a competitive primary does not divide us — it prepares us, and we will win.
The audience applauded. Romney continued: “And when we gather back here in Tampa, seven months from now for our convention, ours will be a united party with a winning ticket for America.”
NEWT HQ, ORLANDO — Newt Gingrich pretty much conceded the night before it started, putting up a sign reading “46 States To Go” a half-hour at least before the polls closed. Now, with the Florida primary called for Mitt Romney, it’s time to look ahead.
I spoke to Tony and Deanna Ortner, a father-daughter team of Newt supporters. They hope their guy stays in (“even if it’s just Newt and a suitcase,” Deanna said) and are convinced he can make his stand when the primaries reach the South. Of course, one of the southern states — Virginia — can’t go for Gingrich because he’s not on the ballot.
The Ortners have a solution to that problem: Gingrich needs to make a pact with Rick Santorum to urge their voters to vote for Ron Paul in Virginia, denying Romney a win.
“We need to prevent this from becoming a Mitt coronation,” Deanna said.
Asked about tonight’s results, the pair (both from Orlando) said there’s only one thing Gingrich could have done to prevent defeat: “Spend more money.”
Precisely at 8 p.m. ET, when the final polls closed in the Florida panhandle, the news networks projected Mitt Romney as the winner of the Florida primary.
The race was called for Romney by CNN, NBC News, Fox News, the Associated Press, and others.
With 56% of precincts reporting, Romney has 48%, Gingrich 31%, Santorum 13%, and Paul 7%.
Romney led by a similar margin throughout the count, after most of the state’s precincts closed at 7 p.m. ET. The networks would not immediately project a winner, however due to Florida’s non-uniform poll closings between the Eastern and Central time zones.
The Romney campaign just filed its financial disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission, showing the group took in $24.27 million in the final three months of 2011 while spending $19.01 million.
Romney’s campaign had $19.91 million on hand as of Dec. 31, according to the report.