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The Florida Effect, Part 2

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Romney, Gingrich, Santorum

The winner of tonight’s primary in Florida will almost certainly be the GOP nominee, and that winner will almost certainly be Mitt Romney.

The race will not be “over” since both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum promise to press on, and we know for a fact that Ron Paul will who was never running to win in any event.

Not “over,” but “decided.” Romney’s InTrade number right now is at an 88% probability of being the GOP nominee. A safe could still fall on him, I suppose, but barring that or its political equivalent, it will be decided if the results tonight are in line with the polling.

A big win will shatter Newt’s dream, and no amount of super Pac money will resurrect it a third time. Carrying on with the politics of personal destruction would, however, hurt a very good brand and one that could easily be in the front ranks of a new conservative revolution designed to repair the shattering effects of four years of Obama misrule.

Rick Santorum has a better argument for carrying on. Newt got his one-on-one time in the ring with Mitt Romney, and lost decisively, three out of four rounds, with a knockout apparently forming up in Florida tonight.

Santorum by contrast was denied the fair fruits of his Iowa win and deserves a one on one shot with Romney, perhaps in Santorum friendly Missouri or even Ohio. Santorum is also plausible though not likely as a Vice Presidential pick, and President Obama’s decision to attack every Catholic institution in America via the new HHS regulations has handed Santorum an issue uniquely suited to the senator’s strengths. Watch and see if the individual contributions of $25, $50 and $100 don’t continue to flow into this week and next.

Governor Romney will not make the mistake of turning away from the primary challenges until he has amassed the delegates he needs, but the map and the math overwhelmingly favor his nomination now. His battling back after South Carolina has honed his political game and sharpened his skills and the skills of his team, all very good things.

Obama will be a lot rougher than Newt, but getting ready for that battle via the Florida confrontation has been a very good thing indeed.

“Wanting your party’s candidate to demonstrate an instinct for the jugular is a leadership quality that would never turn up in polling data or in focus-group discussions,” writes John Podhoretz in this morning’s New York Post.
“People know better than to say they want to know their guy can be an SOB when necessary, just as most politicians know it’s a problem if they come across as an unmitigated SOB.”

John continues:

But the plain truth is that the willingness to confront a rival directly while looking him straight in the eye and saying some pretty harsh things, and the ability to withstand the counterattack and keep on with the assault, are qualities of toughness and perseverance every successful major politician must demonstrate.

After all, if Romney isn’t tough enough to take Gingrich down, how can he hope to do the same to Barack Obama, who will have somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion to use to blacken the name and reputation of the eventual Republican nominee?

Read the whole thing, because John is right, as usual. These ten days in Florida have been tough on everyone, but very good for Team Romney, and tonight’s speech by the governor should reflect on how these past days show exactly what the former Massachusetts governor will be willing to do when the going gets rough in the summer and fall –which is fight back and trade blow for blow.



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