Gingrich’s relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was also a point of contention. Romney said that the country “needed a whistleblower, not a horn-tooter” and that Gingrich’s second contract did not rule out lobbying. Gingrich rebutted that his campaign discovered earlier in the week that Romney has shares in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Goldman Sachs, which is behind a lot of foreclosures in Florida. He asked Romney to say how much money he has made off of foreclosing peoples’ homes. Romney explained that he had a trustee manage a blind trust that was responsible for those shares and that Gingrich also had some.
Gingrich was also attacked for his pledge to build an American colony on the moon by the end of his second term. Romney accused him of pandering in each state and said that “promising hundreds of billions of dollars to make people happy is what got us into the trouble we’re in now.” Gingrich said that his plan would be mostly privately-funded and was doable with reform of NASA.
Rick Santorum shined when he told Romney and Gingrich to stop the “petty personal attacks” and to “leave it alone and focus on the issues.” Gingrich agreed to do so and he later asked Romney for a truce. Gingrich also criticized Wolf Blitzer for continuing with questions meant to stir up conflict, which Blitzer forcefully responded to.
Santorum’s hardest punch was landed on Romney over his health care plan in Massachusetts. He said it was the basis for ObamaCare and that Massachusetts has the highest health care costs in the country. One in four people do not get the care they need, Santorum said. He also said it would undermine Romney’s ability to beat Obama because “we can’t give away this issue this election.” Romney pledged to repeal ObamaCare and said that his plan was only directed at the 8% who did not have health care, while Obama’s affects everyone.
Overall, political analysts felt that Romney got the better of Gingrich. Nate Silver, grading on strategy and execution, gave grades of an A/A to Romney, A-/A to Santorum, B-/C to Paul and D-/B to Gingrich. Larry Sabato gave a B+ to Romney, B+ to Santorum, C+ to Gingrich and a C to Paul.
Dick Morris tweeted that if Romney wins Florida on Tuesday, then “the race is largely over” because of the favorability of February’s contests to Romney. Morris explains that the Nevada caucus will be held next Saturday, February 4, which is certain to be won by Romney. The Maine caucus, which Romney will also probably win, begins that day and lasts a week. On February 7, Colorado and Minnesota, two states that Romney won last time, are holding caucuses. Then, on February 22, the only debate of the month will be held. The contests in Michigan and Arizona are held on February 28. Romney is certain to win the former and, in Morris’ opinion, very likely to win the latter. If Romney wins Florida, that will be a winning streak of 7 contests in a 30-day period.
If Romney holds his lead in the polls, then he will win Florida and will be the undisputed frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
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