I imagine that there was a phone call late last night that went something like this.
Reince Priebus: Romney! What is best in life?
Mitt Romney: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their pollsters.
Pulling 46% of the vote in a four-way primary is a massive victory for the former Massachusetts governor. You can blame/credit the campaign spending or demographics if you wish, but I think Roger Simon was right; at least part of the credit goes to Gingrich for his defeat:
For a supposedly smart guy, Newt Gingrich made a bonehead error in Florida that not only cost him that state but almost certainly any serious chance of the Republican nomination. And in so doing, he, almost idiotically, undercut the very thing that had made his candidacy successful in the first place.
After his solid victory in South Carolina, Gingrich did not continue the obvious strategy that got him there – running against Barack Obama by presenting himself to Republican voters as the great orator and thinker who could bring down the noxious incumbent, the man who rose above internecine intra-party squabbles for the greater good of his country.
Instead, he did the exact opposite. He spent the balance of his time in Florida running against Romney when he had already beaten the former governor in South Carolina. Talk about dumb. Newt let his personal antipathy overwhelm his good sense. He played defense about the picayune and the irrelevant when he should have played offense on the philosophical and substantial.
When Newt acted Presidential and above the fray, he looked like a solid alternative to the “establishment candidate.” I’m not sure if Gingich simply couldn’t help himself and returned to natural form or if Romney baited him into showing the less attractive side of his personality, but either way it occurred, he turned off a lot of voters in a very short amount of time.
Whatever the trigger, Newt Gingrich gave away the Republican nomination last night. It wasn’t a total loss, however. The primary process exists, in part, to vet candidates, and Florida did that. It showed that the former Speaker could not remain above the fray for long, and that when Newt goes negative, he goes negative in such a vicious way that it drives voters away in drives.
Barack Obama’s attacks on Gingrich would have been far, far worse than anything Mitt Romney could dream of putting together. Non-stop coverage of “spiteful Newt” running against himself would more than likely give the election to Obama, no matter how badly the President has mismanaged the country.
Romney – who is getting darn close to inevitable again – has convinced voters that he matches up best against Obama in the first big GOP primary, and may have started a snowball effect.
I’m exactly not thrilled about it. I’m stunned that a flip-flopping RINO is poised to walk away with the GOP nomination just two years after the Tea Party had such an effect on the 2010 mid-term elections. It shows that if the Tea Party and other fiscal conservatives want a viable candidate, they’re going to have to build one from the ground up and start building campaign funding mechanisms to rival that of the RNC.
I’ll of course support the eventual Republican nominee, and you know that you will as well. It doesn’t mean that we can’t start laying the groundwork for a candidate that more effectively reflects our values in 2016.