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From the Front Lines in Florida

From a friend in Tallahassee:

The battle is hot here in FL. The electeds and party hacks are almost uniformly pro-Romney. But many of them are the same people who early on endorsed Crist over Rubio, when the former’s Senate win seemed (to them) inevitable.  My impression is the grassroots types are breaking toward Newt.  It’s amazing that the race here now seems like a toss-up, when just a week ago it appeared Romney would blow away the field.

The fourth most populous state in the nation, Florida will next Tuesday cast more GOP primary votes than Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina combined.  Florida matters–and the latest poll shows a dead heat.

Update at 2:25PM Pacific:  Two new polls have just come out, one by CNN, one by Qunnipiac.  Both show Romney up by two, 36 to 34. Looks as though everything–everything–will come down to tomorrow night’s debate.

  1. wmartin

     Does the fact that Rubio has attacked Gingrich and defended Romney twice in the last 48 hours matter at all there?

  2. tabula rasa

    Peter:  Given your great respect for President Reagan, I though you might be interested in Eliott Abrams’ challenge on NRO  to the narrative that Gingrich and Reagan together defeated communism. Abrams:

    Here is Gingrich: “Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail.President Reagan is clearly failing.” Why? This was due partly to “his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail”; partly to CIA, State, and Defense, which “have no strategies to defeat the empire.” But of course “the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.” Our efforts against the Communists in the Third World were “pathetically incompetent,” so those anti-Communist members of Congress who questioned the $100 million Reagan sought for the Nicaraguan “contra” rebels “are fundamentally right.” Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”

  3. DocJay

    I wonder just how much of the vote is anti-establishment.   Battle lines being drawn, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.  

    Now how Newt ended up being the rogue candidate here instead of Paul is rather comical.

  4. tabula rasa
    wmartin:  Does the fact that Rubio has attacked Gingrich and defended Romney twice in the last 48 hours matter at all there? · 0 minutes ago

    It should, since Rubio was punching holes in blatant Newtonian falsehoods.

  5. Frozen Chosen

     If this thing is close – as the polls seem to indicate – the 10% of the vote which came in via absentee ballot more than two weeks ago could be critical to the outcome.  Most people believe these early votes will go overwhelmingly for Mitt as they were cast when he had his huge lead and the Romney campaign actively focused on getting people to vote early.

    Fascinating!

  6. Stuart Creque

     Santorum has to hope for a “Millions of Cats” scenario and that he ends up as the meekest, cuddliest kitten left alive.

  7. DrewInWisconsin
    Peter Robinson

    The fourth most populous state in the nation . . .

    At first glance, I thought this said “fourth most pompous state in the nation,” and I was trying to figure out which three were more pompous.

  8. Peter Robinson
    C
    tabula rasa: Peter:  Given your great respect for President Reagan, I though you might be interested in Eliott Abrams’ challenge on NRO  to the narrative that Gingrich and Reagan together defeated communism.

     11 minutes ago

    Newt shared the frustrations of many conservatives, including, from time to time, me, that the President permitted the bureaucracy to prove persistently feckless, undermining his program–as you’ll recall if you’re of a certain age, conservatives were always insisting that the President’s staff should “let Reagan be Reagan.”  If Newt mouthed off, giving vent to these frustrations, so be it.  He was in Congress.  That was, in a sense, his job.  And at one time or another, every conservative of any standing felt exasperated or worried–and urged the President not to go soft either on Communism or on our own bureaucracy.  Newt’s comments here place him in the company of William F. Buckley, Jr.–WFB vented his frustrations more artfully, but he vented them–and I’d have thought that for our friends at NR that would be quite good enough.

  9. DocJay

    Romney wins here by the way and by more than 5%.

    DrewInWisconsin

    Peter Robinson

    The fourth most populous state in the nation . . .

    At first glance, I thought this said “fourth most pompous state in the nation,” and I was trying to figure out which three were more pompous. · 0 minutes ago

    They have the most pompanos.  

  10. jhimmi
    DocJay:Now how Newt ended up being the rogue candidate here instead of Paul is rather comical. · 9 minutes ago

    I think, whether he deserves it or not, when Paul speaks of foreign policy, many people hear something like “those men, women and children at the WTC had it coming!”. Or, “9/11 might have been an inside job!”. A little too roguish for most.

  11. jhimmi
    Peter Robinson

    tabula rasa: Peter:  Given your great respect for President Reagan, I though you might be interested in Eliott Abrams’ challenge on NRO  to the narrative that Gingrich and Reagan together defeated communism.

    11 minutes ago

    Newt shared the frustrations of many conservatives, including, frankly, me, that the President permitted the bureaucracy to prove persistently feckless, undermining his program–as you’ll recall if you’re of a certain again, conservatives were always insisting that the President’s staff should “let Reagan be Reagan.”  If Newt mouthed off, giving vent to these frustrations, so be it.  He was in Congress.  That was his, in a sense, his job.  And at one time or another, every conservative of any standing felt exasperated or worried–and publicly urged the President not to go soft either on Communism or on our own bureaucracy.  Newt’s comments here place him in the company of William F. Buckley, Jr, and I’d have thought that for our friends at NR that would be quite good enough. · 3 minutes ago

    Makes me wonder – were Reagan’s critics wrong, are did they help push him to be right?

  12. Henry Scanlon

    I’m in Ponte Vedra (near Jacksonville) and a number of folks I’ve talked to around here are looking for a reason to vote Romney on Tuesday but can’t get past their sense that he just isn’t up to the task of standing up to Obama and articulating the mission well.  They are looking to tomorrow night’s debate (also in Jacksonville) hoping Romney will get going, show some spark and some spunk, give them some confidence that a vote for a guy that they like in a lot of ways– is also the smart move. For them, and maybe for a lot of others, this debate is critical.  Romney has a huge opportunity, but If he’s same ol’, same ol’, I think Gingrich will take it.

  13. wmartin

    Two new polls out today – ARG and CNN – show Romney surging in their Tuesday samples, after Newt’s poor debate performance Monday. ARG is a terrible poll; CNN is generally reliable. So make of it what you will.

     Will the debate tomorrow night allow more audience participation? Without a rabble to rouse (which will be the case in the debates with Obama) Newt really lost a lot of his effectiveness.

  14. tabula rasa
    Peter Robinson

    Newt shared the frustrations of many conservatives, including, frankly, me, that the President permitted the bureaucracy to prove persistently feckless, undermining his program–as you’ll recall if you’re of a certain again, conservatives were always insisting that the President’s staff should “let Reagan be Reagan.”  If Newt mouthed off, giving vent to these frustrations, so be it.  He was in Congress.  That was his, in a sense, his job.  And at one time or another, every conservative of any standing felt exasperated or worried–and publicly urged the President not to go soft either on Communism or on our own bureaucracy.  Newt’s comments here place him in the company of William F. Buckley, Jr, and I’d have thought that for our friends at NR that would be quite good enough. · 7 minutes ago

    Then I would suggest that Mr. Gingrich quit tying himself at the hip with President Reagan.  He can’t have it both ways.

  15. Diane Ellis
    C

    In today’s podcast with Mike Murphy, when pressed on the significance of Florida, Mike declared that Tuesday’s vote has the potential to be a make-or-break moment in the nomination process.  Mike’s argument seemed to me to be that if Romney is able to eke out a victory despite Gingrich’s apparent momentum, due to early voting and absentee returns that are more favorable to him, the game is over for Gingrich.  If, on the other hand, Gingrich cinches up a win with a margin of at least 4 or 5 percentage points, then it will be very, very difficult for team Romney to resurrect itself going forward, or, as Mike Murphy put it, it would be “a huge body blow to Mitt that could start to crack the internals.”

  16. Frozen Chosen
    Henry Scanlon: I’m in Ponte Vedra (near Jacksonville) and a number of folks I’ve talked to around here are looking for a reason to vote Romney on Tuesday but can’t get past their sense that he just isn’t up to the task of standing up to Obama and articulating the mission well.  They are looking to tomorrow night’s debate (also in Jacksonville) hoping Romney will get going, show some spark and some spunk, give them some confidence that a vote for a guy that they like in a lot of ways– is also the smart move. For them, and maybe for a lot of others, this debate is critical. 

    Excellent on-the-ground reporting, Henry.

    I sure hope Mitt can turn it around at the debate tomorrow night but I have my doubts.  Throwing red meat to the base or garroting his opponent just aren’t his strengths.

    Let’s just hope that idiot John King doesn’t give Newt anymore softballs to smash out of the park (come to think of it, could King be helping Newt get the nomination so he can lose in the general?  Nah, too conspiracy theory)

  17. Ben Domenech
    C
    Peter Robinson

    tabula rasa: Peter:  Given your great respect for President Reagan, I though you might be interested in Eliott Abrams’ challenge on NRO  to the narrative that Gingrich and Reagan together defeated communism.

    11 minutes ago

    Newt shared the frustrations of many conservatives, including, frankly, me, that the President permitted the bureaucracy to prove persistently feckless, undermining his program–as you’ll recall if you’re of a certain again, conservatives were always insisting that the President’s staff should “let Reagan be Reagan.”  If Newt mouthed off, giving vent to these frustrations, so be it.  He was in Congress.  That was his, in a sense, his job.  And at one time or another, every conservative of any standing felt exasperated or worried–and publicly urged the President not to go soft either on Communism or on our own bureaucracy.  Newt’s comments here place him in the company of William F. Buckley, Jr, and I’d have thought that for our friends at NR that would be quite good enough. · 13 minutes ago

    Very interesting stuff.

  18. tabula rasa
    Ben Domenech

    Peter Robinson

    tabula rasa: Peter:  Given your great respect for President Reagan, I though you might be interested in Eliott Abrams’ challenge on NRO  to the narrative that Gingrich and Reagan together defeated communism.

    11 minutes ago

    Newt shared the frustrations of many conservatives, including, frankly, me, that the President permitted the bureaucracy to prove persistently feckless, undermining his program–as you’ll recall if you’re of a certain again, conservatives were always insisting that the President’s staff should “let Reagan be Reagan.”  If Newt mouthed off, giving vent to these frustrations, so be it.  He was in Congress.  That was his, in a sense, his job.  And at one time or another, every conservative of any standing felt exasperated or worried–and publicly urged the President not to go soft either on Communism or on our own bureaucracy.  Newt’s comments here place him in the company of William F. Buckley, Jr, and I’d have thought that for our friends at NR that would be quite good enough. · 13 minutes ago
    Very interesting stuff. 

    Abrams’ quotes make it clear that Gingrich was not criticizing the bureaucracy–he was directly criticizing President Reagan.

  19. Pilli
    DocJay: Romney wins here by the way and by more than 5%.

    I wouldn’t want to bet on that.  The panhandle is extremely Conservative though less populated.  The central part of the state (Gainesville through Orlando over to the east coast is also conservative.)  My guess is that these go to Newt.

    Tampa south is hard to guess. 50/50 chance.

    Vero Beach south to Miami is more Romney oriented.

    Its gonna be fun!  I still don’t know who I’ll vote for.  Maybe Cain…he’s still on the ballot.

  20. DrewInWisconsin
    Diane Ellis, Ed.:  Mike’s argument seemed to me to be that if Romney is able to eke out a victory despite Gingrich’s apparent momentum, due to early voting and absentee returns that are more favorable to him, the game is over for Gingrich.

    Two things that I think will diminish the meaning of the Florida vote. First, it’s the early voting. If Romney wins, but only by a small margin, it is likely to be seen as merely the effect of the early voting, rather than a snapshot of the mood on primary day. Also, because Florida moved up their primary, they only get half the delegates they would have normally had. So though it’s the fourth most pompous state, the number of delegates this year is lower and therefore it makes the primary here less significant.

    We’ve heard that the game is over for Gingrich many times. Maybe one of these days Murphy will be right. But it won’t be next Tuesday.