Florida Has Spoken; Cue the Fat Lady

Mitt Romney’s victory in Florida is a big deal, a very big deal, and not just because Florida is the first big state in the 2012 run for the GOP nomination.  Florida matters more than all the races that came before because unlike Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Florida is a microcosm of the whole country.  It’s urban, it’s rural, it’s liberal, it’s conservative, it’s old and it’s young, it’s white, it’s black, it’s Latino, it’s rich and it’s poor.  In other words, if you can win in Florida you can win in a general election.

Newt Gingrich came into Florida looking strong and leading in the polls.  He had just won South Carolina in a breeze and the “experts” were talking about a Gingrich win in Florida and the possible end of Mitt Romney.   The turning point for Gingrich –who had been left for dead not once, but twice in the campaign — came at that debate when he smacked down John King of CNN for asking about Newt’s messy personal life as the first question out of the box.

The audience gave Newt a standing ovation.  Sure, they hate the so-called impartial, unbiased mainstream media, which they know isn’t any of those things.  But there was something else going on.  Conservatives were hungering for someone to stand up and show some guts; someone who would show passion; someone bold who could go head-to-head with Barack Obama and make him look small and weak.  Romney, many of them felt,  wasn’t that guy.  Gingrich, they thought,  was.  Romney, to many GOP voters, was too cautious.  Gingrich was anything but.

Still, I was never convinced that voters necessarily wanted Newt Gingrich, the person.  He was lugging around a lot of baggage, after all.  And the big question was:  Can he really beat Obama?   What those voters wanted, I think, was what Gingrich represented:  someone who had energy and enthusiasm.  They might embrace Romney if he could show Newt’s passion.  In the Jacksonville, Florida debate he did just that.  In that debate, Romney was the fighter.  Gingrich was the one who looked tired.

Remember those old Frankenstein movies, where the lifeless monster gets a few jolts of Z-shaped electricity and the mad scientist cries, “He’s alive!  He’s alive!” That was Romney at the debate.   Someplace along the way between South Carolina and Florida he was jolted with electricity, infused with passion and energy.  He became the fighter conservatives were looking for. Some how, some way, Mitt got a shot of the old Newt — and it worked.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the civil war between the Romney and Gingrich factions is over.  The visceral feelings are still there.  But at some point, Republicans are going to have to decide who has the best chance of beating Obama.  The polls say that’s their number one priority. Before South Carolina the conventional wisdom was that Romney was the only candidate who could defeat the president. The others were too weak or too divisive.  When Gingrich won the South Carolina primary Mitt’s inevitability went out of the window.   In Florida, it may have come back.

The fat lady isn’t singing yet.  But she’s in the wings warming up.

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  • Michael

    I think the Fat Lady caught a frog in her throat last night.

  • Wallace Flint

    Hi Bernie,
    With all rhis “tearing apart” going on between Romney and Gingrich, and Obama out campaining- gives me the feeling that if they keep it up, neither are going to beat him.I hope I’m wrong! Four more years of Obama is something this country doen’t need!

    In God We Trust!
    Wally Flint- Boonville, NY

  • Bill Coffey Sr.

    6% of the delegates and Bernie thinks its over. Newt will win most of the South so stop listening for the fat lady with 44 States still not herd from.

  • Shirl

    I voted for Newt in Florida because he can articulate the difference between Americanism and Socialism(communism). They stopped teaching A vs C which was required to graduate from high school in 68′. Obama will lose for that simple fact! What worries me is Romney already lost to McCain and McCain lost to Obama. The establishment handled McCain and Palin and look what happened!

  • Sunnyr

    AN OPEN LETTER TO SPEAK GINGRICH:

    Dear Speaker Gingrich:

    I would like to get your explanation of the content of several YouTube Video’s that show you describing yourself as a Progressive Republican and a “Wilsonian Progressive.” I am confused because you profess now to be a Reagan Conservative. Curious. Everyone who has studied the Woodrow Wilson era knows that a “Wilsonian Progressive” is NOT a Conservative.

    You also baffled me when you stated on these Video’s that our sacred Constitution is “obsolete.” What did you mean by that? Comrade Obozo has said the same thing! This idea is NOT embraced by most Reagan Conservatives. They revere our Constitution and think it is the most perfect Document every conceived by man. Explain to me why you feel it is “obsolete,” please.

    I also need to know how you can declare so firmly that you are the only REAL Conservative, a Ronald Reagan Conservative, in the race for President. Could it be simple hyperbole or something more sinister, like a LIE? I am really baffled by your fluctuation in ideologies over the years. Quite a drastic change. And yet you have criticized Governor Romney for his “flip-flops.”

    Of course these are all rhetorical questions because I know you will never give me a satisfactory answer. Maybe you have seen the light? Or maybe you are just an Opportunist who grabbed hold of “lightning in a bottle” and rode it out as far as it would take you.

    Oh well, as long as you don’t worm your way into our nation’s highest office under false pretense, I don’t have a problem with it. I really don’t think that is going to happen, do you?

    Sincerely,
    A REAL Reagan Conservative

    • Paul Courtney

      From NotNewt: I have read your letter, and here is my reasoned, dispassionate reply. Let me first say that Republicans should not attack each other, so if you don’t stop pointing out my faults, I’ll send someone to your house to kill your dog in front of your children. Don’t bother me whilst I scout out #4. NG

  • IndependentLasVegas

    Unless someone can light a fire under Mitt’s blank during the presidential contest and debates Obama will beat him like a pinata..

    Mitt is a country club towel boy and the city steet wise Obama will blank slap him during the debates.

    Obama will win 2012 Mitt is too weak of a candidate. We can all thank the RNC for a group of lousy candidates..

    • EddieD_Boston

      Obama “city street wise”? Huh? He’s from Hawaii for gawd sake. He isn’t city street wise even a little. That’s why he thinks foolish (childish) thoughts like believing Jerry Springer Nation isn’t getting a fair shake in America’s capitalist system.

      Really stupid.

  • Paul Courtney

    Bernie: “Conservatives were hungering for someone to stand up and show some guts…” This straight-from-the-shoulder talk reminds me of Mike Royko, and I can’t give a higher complement. I thought I’d be holding my nose and voting Romney, but lately I’m thinking of voting and breathing easy. Mitt’s not a conservative’s dream, but who is? He’ll have a few gaffes, but the latest is a good example of stuff that will backfire on dems. He says “I’m not concerned about the very poor…” and talking heads on both sides explode, but most voters in the middle will get it and recoil when D. Axelrod et al tries to exploit this too much, and Debbie WS accuses him of wanting to roast the poor on a spit. The comments here indicate most of us get your point, even if (or maybe because) you deliver it without the flowers.

    • Bob Hadley

      Romney obviously misspoke when he gave that blurb about the very poor. He should have clarified his remark by saying that he wants to work hard to enable everyone who hits the “safety net” to work their way into the middle class if they’re willing and able.

      That’s all he had to say. The Dems should only emphasize the fact that many in the safety net want to work their way out.

      But want about that Romney ad that showed President Obama in a speech saying that if he talks about the economy he’ll lose? That was obviously unfair and dishonest. The Romney ad only showed the second half of Obama’s sentence. Obama made the speech in ’08 and was quoting John McCain as saying that he (McCain) would lose if he talked about the economy.

      When called on it, Romney actually justified the ad.

      • Paul Courtney

        Not sure I get your point, Bob. Is it that both Romney and Obama were treated unfairly? Romney’s remark was attacked by Ds and Rs AND “covered” by national press (including FOX) AND Comics. Mitt tried the “unfair, out-of-context” plea, but within a day was humbly saying he shouldn’t have uttered the words. Obama’s gaffe has been attacked by Rs and…can you find a single D saying this statement was even a mistake? It’s been “covered” by FOX and…can you find any news outlet (we know FOX isn’t one, right?) covering anything Obama says like it’s a gaffe? At this point, we still have no idea if Obama has the capacity to be humbled by a gaffe, because the progressive press won’t call him on anything. The best example that jumps to my mind- he ultimately corrected his course on uprisings in the middle east, but has any D or press outlet pursued why he quietly supported the regime in Iran in ’09 while blood of peaceful protesters flowed in the streets? If Pres. McCain was running for re-election, every report on the middle east would bring that up. NYT and networks would cover Iran nuclear story and never fail to bring up how it would have been different if only Pres. McCain had supported those courageous Iranians. My point is, Ds play same old games and think they get away with it because press never calls them out, but people do see through that. Well, not all people.

        • Bob Hadley

          You said the Obama campaign may well over-reach by playing only a partial clip of Romney’s I don’t care about the poor comment.

          I pointed out that the Romney campaign had already over-reached in an ad by playing only part of a sentence given by Obama and thereby completely distorting the meaning of his comment. On top of that, Romney tried to justify this ad when asked about it.

          So my point is that both campaigns over-reach and even engage in dishonesty. Romney’s ad and his later doubling-down was blatantly dishonest. You somehow read into my remark something about media coverage.

          To change the subject, however, all media coverage i have seen on Romney’s remark played his entire comment. So Romney’s claim that his remark was taken out of context was false. The commentary that follwed was often only focused on the first half of his sentence, however, and was not very fair.

          Again, Romney should have simply clarified that he will work hard to provide the opportunity of upward mobility to those hitting the safety net.

          • Paul Courtney

            Bob, if your goal is to force me to re-read my posts, success! My first post only mentioned D. Axelrod and Debbie WS, who are not the press, but are examples of Ds who take unfair attacks too far. You think Romney’s attack on Obama’s gaffe goes so far as to lose independent voters? My own opinion is that it’s not unfair to put a person’s own words in front of them and make ‘em show the context. Romney failed that and moved on. Maybe you think Matt Lauer’s one-and-done question of Obama was the equal of the coverage Romney is getting, fine. I did turn to the media’s coverage because you mentioned Romney was “called on it”. Who called him on it? The fact that Obama doesn’t get “called” on anything by his lapdog press seemed an appropriate response. And isn’t Bernie’s focus primarily on the press? What website are we on, anyhow?

          • Bob Hadley

            “My first post only mentioned D. Axelrod and Debbie WS, who are not the press, but are examples of Ds who take unfair attacks too far.”

            “My own opinion is that it’s not unfair to put a person’s own words in front of them and make ‘em show the context”

            Geeez, don’t you want to re-phrase? You’re saying that’s it’s not unfair to have an ad claiming to show Obama saying that if he talks about the economy he’ll lose, even when he clearly did not say that and clearly did not
            intend to say that and even when the ad completely blacked-out the central part of Obama’s sentence??????

            If, by some tortured logic, that ad is deemed not unfair, it’s still blatantly dishonest!

            And how can you, in the same thought, talk about the unfairness of the Dems only playing the first part of Romney’s sentence about not caring for the very poor????

            If you didn’t misspeak, then your attitude seems to be that the Repubs are unfairly made the underdogs by the MSM and thus should have more of a license to use dishonest tactics than the Dems. If you did misspeak, it’s not a problem as long as you re-phrase. Most of us misspeak from time to time. (Especially those of us who talk a lot. ;) )

            But guess what? There are liberal ideologues who’ll say that the Dems are unfairly the underdogs and, accordingly, should have that license while the Repubs should adhere to stricter standards.

            I know I know I know. You think those libral ideologues are clearly wrong. But guess what? Those liberal ideologues think you’re clearly wrong. And so here we are!

            Didn’t Bernie previously address the problem of such double standards? And didn’t you agree with Bernie? I thought conservatives advocate one standard for everyone.

            BTW, to answer your last two questions, yes, we’re on Bernie’s website. But Bernie’s article that we’re posting on is about Mitt Romney and his quest for the Republican nomination. It’s not about the MSM this time.

  • Maureen

    America does not need another self absorbed,elitist,arrogant narcissist like Gingrich. We already have one of those in the White House.

    • Fred Pasek

      Right, we need a self-absorbed, elitist, arrogant, narcissist like Romney. :)

  • Joseph Maloney

    To quote Yogi Berra, “it ain’t over till it’s over”. Mitt spant 15 million to Gingrich’s 3 million on Florida primary. I’m still going to remind everyone that neither will be believed when they debate Obama on the Health Care Law. Republicans are going for the image and money guy with Romney who has plenty of baggage that the Obama will hammer on. I support Rick Santorum, because he represents the ideals and principles that was so dear to the Tea party in 2010; which so many have abandoned in supporting either Romney or Gingrich.

    • Richard Hilger

      I’m with you about Santorum. At least there are two of us!

  • robin in fl

    you are so right Bernie

    I loved seeing Newt hand J king his head in that SC debate.

    then Newt comes into FL and starts talking about moon colonies while he is at the space coast..I had to do a double take …talk about lunar maddnes,,UGH

    perhaps he should have talked about getting our earth colony in order first..all I kept seeing was visions of Jackie Gleeson saying ,”to the moon ALICE,TO THE MOON!”

    • Maureen

      Robin, great posting. Loved the one of these days Alice to the moon,lol

  • cmacrider

    Bernie: If the fat lady is about to sing … please contact Romney and tell him to cancel the attack adds in Nevada …

  • Doug Fenton

    Poor Newt couldn’t resist trying to take a bite out of Romney’s leg when he went after him for investing/profiting off FreddieMac & FannieMae investments. Knowing full well that Romney has a blind trust, this made Newt look foolish. When Romney came back at Newt for having precisely the same investments, Newt looked just plain silly. Conservatives cannot support someone who looks silly. We can overlook character faults, but not silliness. Newt committed suicide during that debate.

    • Fred Pasek

      Unfortunately, they both look silly. Romney’s money was enough to overcome his stammering and weak platform, but his victory will leave the Tea Party disinterested and he doesn’t have it in him to inspire people. It’s John McCain all over again. Republican voters have a wet towel over them, and Obama’s gaining steam. January saw a ton of construction projects funded by federal money hit the streets. The materials for them will be being bought just before the elections. Perfectly timed. I’m beginning to smell defeat.

      • Paul Courtney

        Fred: Yes, I know, old guard conservatives like me were not, and are not, excited by Mitt. But the candidates appealing to the tea party failed badly, and Newt has run a despicably bad campaign (wasn’t he the guy in the early debates saying Rs shouldn’t attack fellow Rs?). Rs like me are obliged to Newt for what he did in ’94, and I wanted to look past his personal life hoping he could be the conservative alternative to Mitt. Well, a con would instinctively reject Nancy Pelosi’s session on the couch, not apologize for it later. A con would instinctively reject a health care mandate (Mitt doesn’t pretend to be a con). Newt’s campaign has only served to expose his faults. Tea party patriots (if they are patriots, and I think they are) will not stay home in droves because they are the type who understand the right to vote also carries an obligation to vote (and bring a photo id), and they won’t vote for BO.

  • Bill Hurdle

    I read the comments and it seems that Mr. Goldberg’s assumption didn’t sit well with people who are heavily vested in the other candidates. My candidate is ABO (Anybody But Obama) which is also the favorite of the plurality of likely Republican voters based on polls. I would ask that people consider a conciliatory approach realizing that the course of this lumbering ship will not be reversed during one Presidential administration. Now is not he time to seek ideological purity but someone who will change course enough to get the economy and deficit spending under control.

    • Bruce A.

      I’m with you on this one. Priority number one, change presidents. I do feel it will take years to get out of this mess since it took years to get into this mess.

    • kayakbob

      True. My perfect candidate is that ABO guy.

      • Maureen

        Ditto

  • kayakbob

    the fat lady:

    Yes Bernie. Exactly…”What those voters wanted, I think, was what Gingrich represented: someone who had energy and enthusiasm.”

    Until just a week or so ago, Newt looked like a man devoted to an idea. Romney looked like a man devoted to getting elected – by being THE accepatable alternative…to Newt? (yes)…to Obama? (yes)…to the teleprompter itself? (yes)

    When Newt was thundering away on an idea, a vision, he was most effective. But, in my humble opinion, Romney’s camp saw this and set the trap of accusation. Newt took the bait about 10 days ago and from that point on he was less a man fighting for an idea, and more a man lashing out. It just reinforced the underlying worries of conservatives – Newt the loose cannon; Newt the undisciplined; Newt the guy with a million new ideas that can’t focus on a single one of them to fruition.

    I admit falling into the conventional wisdom mentality with regard to Romney – most electable and less likely to implode on August or Sept. But IF Romney wins, it will be due to the Newt’s of the world; the Herman Cain’s of the world, the Rick Perry’s of the world that made Romney a better debater and candidate in general.

  • Drew Page

    Bring in the fat lady? I guess that takes care of it then , huh Bernie? Best you get hold of the RNC and tell them to call off the primaries everywhere else in America. After all, Florida has spoken. You also should notify the other candidates. I am sure they will appreciate knowing that any further campaigning on their part is a waste of time and money.

    • Michael

      “Best you get hold of the RNC and tell them to call off the primaries everywhere else in America.”

      Best line of the day. :)

  • DOOM161

    It’s funny. Until Gingrich won South Carolina, it was South Carolina that was supposed to signal the end of the primary race.

  • David R. Zukerman

    What the Republicans need is a candidate who is a courageous conservative, not a limousine conservative. Romney, I fear, is his father’s son. And so, in his latest misspeaking, we learn that he is not concerned about the “very poor” or the “very rich.”

    Who are the “very poor”? — the people who get bashed by government of, byh and for the insiders. Who are the “very rich”? — the people who benefit imnmensely from government of, by and for the insiders.

    I expect that candidate Romney will do worse, if nominated, than McGovern did.

    I pray that the Republican National Convention will nominate a courageous conservative who will restore our founding legacy and, thereby, renew the cause of liberty across the land. If the limousine conservatives maintain strangle-hold at the Republican National Convention, I pray that the American people will elect a House and Senate with majorities of courageous conservatives. Failing that — I fear our founding legacy — gov’t of, by and for the people — is doomed, resulting in the establishment, contrary to the Constitution, of aristocratic government in the USA, govt of, buy (cq) and for the insiders.

    • Richard Hilger

      Santorum has been there all along and what have we heard: “Newt-Mitt”; “Mitt-Newt”, over and over and over….obsession with two disaster zones: One, a camoflauged country-club liberal and the other a flaming egotist who bounces all over the political landscape. I’m crying in my coffee. A year ago it seemed impossible for the malfeasant in the White House to be re-elected. Then: “Newt-Mitt”; “Mitt-Newt” and the circular firing squad commenced. Nice going, GOP. FUBAR! The classic: ‘defeat from the jaws of victory.’

  • Ken Hansen

    I agree Bernie, Republican voters hunger for a passionate, articulate, candidate to stand up to Team O and take them to task for what they’ve done these last 3 years.

    McCain limited his money (McCain-Feingold) and was to scared of racism charges to go after Obama’s weaknesses, and he choose an unknown as a running mate. The only other thing McCain could have done would have been to withdraw from the campaign, and he sort of did that when he suspended his campaign to focus on the financial crisis, which opened the door for Obama to state a President needs to multitask… (and lent an air of believability to his ‘who knew the economy was so bad?’ defense when he took office.)

    A repeat of that kind of candidate would doom the country.

  • Vin Bickler

    Everyone knows that BO stinks…… even liberals are hurting under the present oppressive administration. Time for hard-working, productive Americans of every political stance to support the GOP candidate who will bring fresh air to Washington.

  • waterlilies84

    Pure and simple. NObama! I think Ron Paul is dangerous, I think Newt Gingrich is living a lie, I think Romney is too slick, I sort of like Santorum and will vote for him in this state, (unless he does something really stupid or withdraws). But no matter who wins the nomination, I will vote for anyone but BHO.

  • Michael

    “The fat lady isn’t singing yet. But she’s in the wings warming up.”

    No, she’s not. She’s on the lam, hiding from Michelle Obama.

  • Bob DiLonardo

    Bernie: More than half the FL voters chose non-Romney. IMO, had this been a two-man race, Romney would have lost. Having said that, I don’t believe that as many Paul voters would have come to the polls without his name on the ballot. Those who would have voted, would be non-Romney. Regards!

  • Ken Besig, Israel

    Newt’s insufferable arrogance coupled with his inability to shut up for even a few seconds is what has caused his campaign to crash and burn twice, and is what undid him him Florida.
    Newt is damaged goods, in his personal as well as his political life, but he is so arrogant that he cannot see this.
    And this is a problem, Newt has self inflicted his own defeat, now he seems to want to inflict that defeat on the GOP.
    Newt’s arrogance and obtuseness will poison the well for the GOP Presidential race, the Congress, and the Senate.
    Newt’s big mouth and lack of self control will hand the Democrats the Presidency for four more years, control of the Congress, and an even bigger majority in the Senate.

    • Drew Page

      I’ll bet if you really look into it, you can probably blame him for the Kennedy assination too.

      • Michael

        You’re on a roll. :)

  • Nancye

    Mitt won Florida because he had the money to run attack ads, and Newt didn’t.

    Mitt is a wimp and won’t stand up to Obama. BTW, should he win the GOP nomination and debate Obama, how will he answer him when he reminds Mitt that his RomneyCare was the basis for ObamaCare? Huh???

    The fat lady may decide not to sing after all!!!

    • Kathie Ampela

      Until people stop believing every bullshit thing they read by bloggers and GOP establishment operatives and stick to their own instincts, money will continue to buy elections in this country. We’ve seen this phenomenon for almost a year now; Trump,Bachmann,Perry,Cain,Gingrich all taken out by sound bites and negative campaigning. Herman Cain won the straw poll in Florida in Sept…whatever happened to him? You think the same thing won’t happen to Santorum if he becomes a threat? What’s worse is, no good people will ever want to run for president.

  • Kathie Ampela

    Don’t get too excited, Bernie. There is a very long road ahead. Today is Feb. 1..the GOP convention in Tampa is at the end of August. That’s many, many, many sound bites from now. The fat lady better go back and eat some more lasagna.

  • Ron Kean

    I’ve always talked up Romney here but for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to give Gingrich a chance, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    And big conservative names have come out even recently for Santorum and Gingrich stoking the flames of contention even more.

    The latest poll on Drudge showed Romney ahead of Obama. He was the only one. That’s the only thing that matters to me.

    Romney saved the Olympics once. I remember the corruption and problems there before he stepped in. He was with a company that used formulas to save other companies and subsequently the jobs that go with them. Some clients were saved and some not but he had to have gained knowledge in failure as much as or more than as with success.

    Romney may be a low-flame fire. But the best cooks know that much of the time thats the best way to cook.

  • cmacrider

    Bernie: Your analysis of the Florida primary seems unassailable. However, I retain some doubts as to whether this contest will have an early resolution. Although I recognize that Mitt did well with both conservatives and T-Party people, there is a definite concern among both that Mitt may not effect the dramatic changes and cut backs in expenditures needed in Washington. There is a distinct conviction that the Dole/McCain gentlemanly approach will end in the decline of the U.S.A.
    If Mitt is going to end this quickly he has to:
    (a) continue to take it to Obama as he started to do in Florida;
    (b) not apologize for his wealth (conservatives don’t envy his success)
    (c) continue to forcefully point out that Obama’s policies are destroying the middle class .. and that he will rectify that matter by restoring an entrepreneurial atmosphere and economic certainty.

    I don’t think it would hurt for him to completely ridicule that State of the Union Address. e.g. Mitt Romney: “If I had an executive present me a business plan for a corporate venture that was as vague and wishy washy as Obama’s SOTU Address …. If he didn’t even present me with a budget …. If he didn’t even address the debt problem …… I’d replace him immediately with someone who could do the job.”

  • Tim Ned

    This has been one bloody primary. But if Romney ends up the nominee we need to thank Newt for prepping him. Because when we get to the general election it’s going to get a lot worse as the Dem’s will turn the hounds loose.