Mitt Romney won a big victory in Florida’s primary yesterday, taking the state’s 50 delegates with 46% of the vote. There’s still a long road ahead, as Romney only has 87 of the 1,144 delegates needed to officially win the nomination. In their speeches following the primary results, the candidates indicate that the contest will take a more positive direction.
Romney did not mention any of his opponents by name in his victory speech. The only criticism he made was that the others did not have the experience in creating jobs that he has. His focus was completely on President Obama, sounding as if the general election campaign had already begun. He pledged to “end the Obama era and begin a new era of American prosperity.”
He said that President Obama wants to “fundamentally transform” the country and that he be the one to bring true hope and change. One standout line in Romney’s speech was, “Hope is a new paycheck, not a faded word on an old bumper sticker.” A look at Romney’s financial advantage and the upcoming contests helps explain why Romney sounded so confident and is, once again, talking as if the nomination is his. “If you believe the disappointments of the last few years are a detour, not our destiny, then I am asking for your vote,” he said.
The Romney campaign has nearly 10 times the money that Newt Gingrich has with no debt. It is likely that Romney will score 7 victories in a row by the end of February, as political analyst Dick Morris pointed out. The next contest will be on February 4 when Nevada holds its caucus. Romney won the state in 2008 and has led in every poll taken there. Maine begins its week-long caucus that day also and polls show Romney leading. Romney won Maine in 2008. On February 4, the caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota take place, both of which Romney won last time.
The only debate of the month will be held on February 22, giving Romney’s opponents an opportunity to stall his momentum. If they don’t, he will win the Michigan and Arizona primaries on February 28. Romney won the former in 2008 and lost the latter to McCain. The last poll in Arizona had Gingrich and Romney tied. Super Tuesday, the date when 10 states hold their caucuses and primaries, arrives on March 6.
Newt Gingrich came in second place in Florida with 32% of the vote, but didn’t win any delegates because it is a winner-takes-all contest. He claimed that the state had “made it clear” that the campaign had narrowed down to two people, with Romney as the “Massachusetts moderate” and him as the “conservative leader.” By making this statement, he was trying to compel supporters of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul to jump to his side. He repeatedly talked about winning by running a “positive” campaign and his relatively tepid criticism of Romney may be the result of a shift in strategy.
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