Newt Gingrich’s last attempt to ride the big elephant will(did) effectively end tonight when Mitt Romney wins(won) the Florida GOP primary with a large plurality. UPDATE: I wrote this very early today. Since then FL Sen. Marco Rubio has appeared on CNN and predicted tonight’s winner will likely carry the GOP standard in November. Also two late-breaking polls show Romney with a total greater than the sum of the projections for Gingrich and Santorum. Now we know with about 80 % of votes counted those polls got it just about right. So , unexpected and unlikely developments aside, it’s Mitt. Get used to it. Embrace it. And please don’t whimper that Romney is a sure loser in November; that he’s just another gooey cone of vanilla soft serve from the establishment refreshment stand.
Not so. Not even close. My confidence comes partly from events in Iowa and then last week. Romney’s desire to be 45 is much more a part of who he is than his apparent inclination to be nice. I’m as certain as any mere observer can be that Romney is a nice fellow in the sense he’d be a great next-door neighbor. However Newt’s unexpected challenge to Romney allowed us to see how the latter reacted under pressure, particularly after results in South Carolina and the early polling in Florida indicated Gingrich had caught fire.
Well the Gingrich fire is out. Romney and his team demonstrated the quick reflexes necessary to dispatch Newt and do it with celerity. Team Romney and not the least, the candidate himself turned back the Newt mo in about a week. As in Iowa the ads on behalf of Romney appeared on TV 24-7; almost all negative. But more advertising money doesn’t explain Romney’s much improved debate performances. Mitt proved he’s a quick study as he successfully made the changes recommended by his new debate coach who previously guided Michelle Bachmann. Tonight Romney gave a very upbeat and conservative victory speech. I am amazed at the improvement Romney has displayed since South Carolina. Newt deserves a Thank You card for jolting Romney and impelling him to improve as a candidate.
The former Massachusetts honcho left no doubt that he can be the stormin’ Mormon as he smacked down Newt in both debates. Newt had until last week used his debate time more effectively than any of the others so the reversal was impressive and revealed that Romney has the skills to debate Obama.
As the first month of 2012 ends it still seems likely that the American economy will be Topic One in the electioneering. Romney has great credentials for just that kind of contest. Democrats can bring out every worker laid off because of Bain Capital. They can paint Romney as an out of touch rich boy. It won’t work. It will just remind voters that Mitt has created jobs, has the smarts to make a fortune and is much the better choice to get the US economy up to speed. Tonight Romney contrasted his deep experience in the private sector with President Obama’s miserable performance to date. Obama and his merry men and women will bluster that they can’t wait to attack Mr 1% in the general. It won’t work. Romney is much more fluent in matters economic than 44.
And Obamacare will be on the table. Who better to pick it apart than Romney who can very plausibly argue that having been there, done that, he has much better answers to the very real problems of health care. Who better than Romney to detail flaw by flaw why Obamacare has to be repealed? And tonight Romney again pledged to repeal Obamacare.
The dumb card? Forget it. In fact President Obama may look a bit like the deer in the headlights when he’s Mano a Mano with Mitt on the debate stage as the questions come on jobs, regulation, trade and the like. How will Obama and Democrats down the line respond as Romney plainly explains how the so-called stimulus package wasted money, how Obama’s anti-fossil fuel policies have created high energy prices that are a drag on the average household?
This past week many of my reservations concerning Mitt Romney disappeared. Most importantly he showed the ability to both take the gloves off and put the brass knuckles on. Unlike Dole and McCain he will use the entire political weapons inventory. We won’t be left sputtering at the TV as our guy decides not to land a punch to prove something to someone somewhere about fairness even as he bends over due to a below the belt whack from his opponent.
UPDATE#2: Today I have read much anti-Romney polemic here. I don’t hold with most of it. Romney is not “stealing” the nomination nor is it “rigged” The man from Massachusetts simply got to 2012 “firstest with the mostest” in a phrase coined, I think, by a Confederate general. I was for Jon Huntsman. Huntsman made a bet on New Hampshire and spent a great deal of time and significant amount of dough there. He finished third and Romney wasn’t to blame. Huntsman like Perry failed to convince enough voters. No black magic involved. I have some sympathy for Newt though. Some of the pro-Romney ads were over the top. However, can anyone argue that Gingrich would not face similar and probably heavier fire in the general?
Tonight Newt promised to soldier on as the genuine conservative. Gingrich also gave a brief outline of a new Contract With America. Gingrich’s remarks had to my ears at least a distinct echo of the bunker. Rick Santorum admitted that either himself or Gingrich will have to quit if Romney is to be stopped. He suggested that Gingrich should be the one to leave because Gingrich’s baggage has become an issue and thus saps energy from the conservative alternative.
Yes, it’s still a four man race but Mitt by later today will have(tonight has) lapped the field. The checkered flag is in view and the singing fat lady is ready to wave it.