After finishing a distant second to Mitt Romney in Nevada on Saturday, Newt Gingrich became unhinged during an evening press conference, promising a prolonged battle for the Republican nomination:
Newt Gingrich vowed again to stay in the Republican presidential contest until the convention in August and said he will spend the next several months engaged in a bitter battle with Mitt Romney.
Speaking to the press after the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mr. Gingrich repeatedly hammered Mr. Romney as a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-taxes candidate who has the backing of the Republican establishment.
“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. “I will be a candidate for president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”
Mr. Romney ignored Mr. Gingrich in his victory speech tonight. But Mr. Gingrich seemed insistent on making sure that his rival cannot simply look the other way.
He accused Mr. Romney of purposely leaking false information about Mr. Gingrich’s plans to drop out of the presidential race, calling that Mr. Romney’s “greatest fantasy” in the race.
And Mr. Gingrich said that recent meetings he held with donors were meant to map out a plan to continue getting his message out despite Mr. Romney’s superior fund-raising.
“The entire establishment will be against us,” he predicted. But he said that by appearing on national television and doing interviews in newspapers, he will spread his agenda.
“The American people want somebody who is genuinely conservative, who is prepared to change Washington,” Mr. Gingrich said.
With a win in Florida under his belt, Mitt Romney is looking west to the caucus in Nevada tomorrow where the latest poll shows him leading his rivals for the Republican nomination by a large margin.
The poll, sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) and the local CBS affiliate, shows Romney taking 45% of the vote among likely caucus-goers, with a substantial amount of support coming from Mormons. Romney also performs well with “strong supporters” of the Tea Party movement, taking 27% of the important faction in the Republican base. Gingrich takes 37% of Tea Party voters.
Here is how the rest of the poll shakes out:
- Mitt Romney: 45%
- Newt Gingrich: 25%
- Rick Santorum: 11%
- Ron Paul: 9%
Gingrich’s numbers have fallen off since the last LVRJ poll, which was conducted just before Christmas. At that time Gingrich was down four points to Romney — inside the margin of error, so they were essentially tied — in a state where many observers didn’t expect much of contest. Fast-forward to today, Romney is enjoying his highest level of support in Nevada.
The poll is disappointing (and surprising) for Ron Paul, who largely skipped out on the primary in Florida to focus on caucus states. As you can see, Paul is set to finish last, despite being “deeply organized” in the state, according to the LVRJ. He finished second there in 2008, though the process was controversial.
Many observers feel that Barack Obama has a very good shot at re-election this fall as Mitt Romney — who often performs the best out of the GOP field in head-to-head matchups against the president — has given Democrats plent of firepower in recent days. But even with today’s good jobs report, the economy should be a concern for Obama’s campaign, reports Ian Swanson at The Hill:
Recent economic reports could have the Obama White House worried.
All of the reports suggest the pace of economic growth is still slow, and that unemployment could rise, and not fall, by the end of the year.
2012 has been a good year for markets so far, despite unease over Europe. Every major index reported strong gains in January, and the rally on Wednesday continued a good year. Improving 401(k) plans might put voters in more of a mood to give Obama four more years in November.
Still, there are plenty of reasons to think the markets and jobless rate will go in a different direction later this year.
Here’s why the White House should be nervous:
• The Federal Reserve has announced it will keep interest rates low through 2014, a sign of its pessimism about the pace of the economic recovery.
• The Commerce Department found the nation’s economy grew at a 2.8 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2011, a faster pace than the rest of the year but worse than expected. If the economic growth slows in the next quarter, it will be tough to keep unemployment down.
After some early morning confusion, Donald Trump, who had flirted with the idea of running for the GOP nomination last year, has endorsed Mitt Romney:
Celebrity business magnate Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president Thursday, telling reporters he will not mount an independent campaign if Romney is the Republican nominee.
Trump, who has repeatedly flirted with the possibility of his own White House bid, revealed his decision in Las Vegas two days before Nevada’s Saturday caucuses.
Media outlets had said that Trump would endorse Newt Gingrich, which made sense given that the former Speaker pandered heavily heavily to the reality TV show host. However, these have obviously turned out to be false.
The endorsement is interesting for a couple of different reasons. Trump’s endorsement is actually a negative in the minds of voters. Let’s face it, it became clear that his consideration of a presidential bid and Birtherism were nothing more Trump being a publicity whore, and voters saw right through it.
The other reason is because Romney snubbed Trump at the end of last year by declining an invitation to a Newsmax-sponsored debate that he was slated to moderate. Gingrich and Rick Santorum had opted to attend.
In case you haven’t already, Mitt Romney, the day after a very strong showing in Florida, stuck his foot in his mouth during an interview on CNN by saying that he is “not concerned about the very poor”:
After winning the Florida primary, GOP presidential nominee hopeful Mitt Romney explains to CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien that he is focused on a particular portion of the American population in his campaign. Romney says, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
O’Brien asked him to clarify his remarks saying, “There are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, ‘That sounds odd.’” Romney continues, “We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor…. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus…. The middle income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.”
Both anti-Romney conservatives and Democrats reacted to the comments, using them as another example of Romney being out of touch. Other, more reasonable conservatives, are just concerned that it feeds perceptions about Romney. For example, the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll writes:
The race for the Republican presidential nomination has turned ugly over these past few weeks thanks primarily to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), whose campaigns have resorted to an “everything but the kitchen sink” smear campaign to destroy former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). Both Gingrich and Santorum have attacked Romney’s success in the private sector by criticizing his work at Bain Capital and relentlessly demanding that he release his tax returns. Gingrich’s campaign upped the ante when it unleashed a robocall slamming Romney for vetoing additional funding for kosher kitchens in nursing homes as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently fiscal restraint has now joined business success in this race’s growing list of taboos.
As had come to be expected in days prior, Mitt Romney took Florida easily last night over Newt Gingrich, who defiantly promised to press on for the forseeable future despite the struggling to win a state where he had a lead a week before the primary.
Here are the results of the Florida Republican primary:
- Mitt Romney: 46%
- Newt Gingrich: 32%
- Rick Santorum: 13%
- Ron Paul: 7%
Romney wins all of the state’s 50 delegates, which was cut by 50% per Republican National Committee rules due to the Florida GOP holding its primary before March 6th (Super Tuesday). Gingrich wins nothing and the momentum he had built after South Carolina has been squandered after a couple bad debate performances, particularly the one in Jacksonville last Thursday.
So where is the race as it stands now? It appears that Gingrich doesn’t have high hopes for the Nevada and Minnesota caucuses. You’d have to expect Ron Paul to be a factor in both of those states, where his campaign directed its focus instead of competing Florida. However, Super Tuesday, which will include his home state of Georgia, may offer more to Gingrich. We’ll get a clearer picture of what to expect next month in the coming days as polling firms will no doubt provide us with plenty of numbers.
For those of you saying that Rick Santorum should get out of the race for the Republican nomination and endorse Newt Gingrich — the thinking being that it would unite the anti-Romney vote, there is new polling showing that this may not help knock off the GOP frontrunner:
Perhaps the most important number in the NBC-Marist poll was what happens when Santorum is removed from the race. Santorum’s vote splits off evenly if he’s removed, and Romney has an even WIDER lead over Gingrich, 49%-33%. So, Gingrich can’t make the argument that if conservatives weren’t divided he would win. The numbers just don’t bear that out. What’s really interesting — Santorum probably could argue that if GINGRICH weren’t in the race, he’d have a better chance against Romney. Santorum’s image is as good as it’s been since the campaign began.
That may be counterintuitive, but when you look at it, you’d have to make a lot of assumptions about Santorum’s supporters. I suppose some of it makes sense, being that evangelical Christians make up a lot of Santorum’s support, voters that may have an issue with voting for a Mormon.
And as much as I dislike diving into a candidate’s personal life, keep in mind that Gingrich’s has been married three times and has owned up to an affair. This is obviously going to be an issue to many religious-minded voters.
We’ll see what happens after tonight, but Santorum can justify sticking around for the time being. Whether he’s able to gain traction before Super Tuesday is an entirely different story. I’d never vote for the guy, but I think he may have another surge left in him before this is all said and done.
While wondering around Facebook and Twitter yesterday, I saw quite a few of my conservative friends — proud members of the anti-Romney faction in the Republican Party — pointing to video from 2006 where then Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was preparing to sign RomneyCare into law.
The reason the video is getting play is because Romney notes that he collaborated with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in pushing the law through, obviously a moment that’ll make many Republican groan, and rightfully so:
The Massachusetts healthcare reform law, which — as we’ve noted many times here before, including today, served as the template for Obama. But conservatives that hammer Romney on this issue and push Newt Gingrich as the alternative are conveniently forgetting that he supported many of the same ideas that became part of RomneyCare, and later ObamaCare.
Over the weekend, Verum Serum posted audio from a May 2009 Center for Health Transformation conference call where Gingrich very clearly calls for some form of a requirement on individuals to purchase health insurance coverage:
Seeking to remain relevant in Republican politics, Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich, in what couldn’t have been a more predictable move:
The move by the former GOP candidate and tea-party favorite comes three days before the Florida primary, at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory.
“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”
Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening.”
Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him. Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.).
Cain backed Romney in 2008, but both he and Gingrich are from Georgia and it was obvious during the debates that they had had an affection for each other. And while the endorsement will be played up by anti-Romney conservatives, Gingrich’s actions as Speaker of the House, such as trying to diminish the influence of fiscal conservatives, are continuing to come under fire.