Gingrich used his speech to announce that he would be releasing a new contract between himself and his supporters modeled on the 1994 Contract with America. He previously released a 21st Century Contract with America in September. He said that the first part will be “conditional” and would require winning the presidential election and a majority in the House and Senate. The second part will be promises of actions he will take.
He listed several executive orders he would sign, including one that would move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Gingrich framed his candidacy as one of sweeping change, instead of “managing the decay,” that would confront “the establishment” and both parties.
Rick Santorum came in third place with 13% of the vote. He congratulated Romney on his “resounding victory.” He devoted most of his speech to railing against the nastiness between Romney and Gingrich. He said that the “campaign went downhill” in Florida and that the Republican Party can do better. He defended Romney from Gingrich’s criticism of his time at Bain Capital and defended Gingrich from Romney’s criticism over his ties to Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac. He respectively criticized both for supporting the bailouts.
Santorum swiftly rebuffed suggestions from Gingrich that he should drop out so that the non-Romney vote could consolidate. He said that “Newt Gingrich had his opportunity” in Florida and had all the momentum after winning South Carolina. Gingrich lost, Santorum said, because he became the issue. Santorum said that the Republican Party should not have a candidate that will distract from making President Obama the issue.
Santorum made it clear that he will fight on. In interviews after his speech, he pointed to polls in Ohio and Missouri that showed him at or near the top. Ohio votes on March 6 and Missouri votes on March 17.
Ron Paul came in fourth in Florida with only 7% of the vote, but he did not actively campaign there. He wasn’t even in Florida on primary day. He was in Nevada to get a head start on the caucus, where he has two campaign offices. In his concession speech, he said that “We will spend our time in the caucus states, because if you have an irate, tireless minority, you do very well in the caucus states.”
Mitt Romney didn’t even mention Gingrich in his speech and Gingrich limited his attacks on Romney to calling him a “Massachusetts moderate.” Santorum, who won a huge applause in the last debate for demanding that the two end the personal attacks, reiterated his call. It’s too early to tell, but the presidential candidates made be reacting to a desire from Republican voters for a more respectful campaign.
Mitt Romney now leads with 87 delegates and Gingrich follows with 26. Santorum has 14 and Ron Paul is in last place with 4. Santorum makes it known that he won’t quit anytime soon and Gingrich and Paul each vow to fight until the convention. Romney is far ahead of the pack, but this race isn’t over and an upset can’t be counted out in this wild campaign.
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