Romney Confident, Newt To Press On As Florida Votes

Anticipating victory in Florida's game-changing Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, Mitt Romney looked ahead while his struggling rival Newt Gingrich vowed to press on with his White House quest.

Florida is the largest nominating contest so far this year and, with double-digit leads in statewide polls, Romney seemed headed for a big boost in the state-by-state battle to decide who will face Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama in the November general election.

If Romney wins as expected, it would mark a sharp reversal of fortune for Gingrich. The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives scored a shock upset victory over the former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive in the last primary, 10 days ago, in South Carolina.

The fight could easily go on until "Super Tuesday" on March 6, when Gingrich, who is from Georgia, could launch a concerted campaign for the southern states that will be up for grabs. Only some 15 percent of the delegates will be decided by then.

But a big Romney victory on Tuesday could leave even the determined Gingrich scrambling. "Double digits could really scare away potential donors who are looking to replenish Gingrich's coffers," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said.

Read more from Ros Krasny and Steve Holland at Reuters

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Ford O'Connell At ABC News Radio On The Latest In The Florida GOP Presidential Primary

Ford O'Connell joins Scott Wales On ABC News Radio (Australia) to discuss the latest exit polls and the implications of the Florida GOP presidential primary.

Interview available at http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/newsradio/audio/20120102-oconnell.mp3

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Ford O'Connell Joins Monocle 24 To Preview The Florida GOP Presidential Primary

Ford O'Connell and University of South Florida professor Susan McManus join Monocle 24's "The Briefing" to discuss the lead up to the Florida Republican presidential primary. Interview begins at the 7:20 mark.

Interview available at http://www.monocle.com/monocle24/?openepisode=10800067

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Polls Show Florida Rout. Can Newt Gingrich Survive Till Convention?

Newt Gingrich appears headed toward a big defeat in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Florida. Five polls out Monday show Mitt Romney ahead of him by at least 5 percentage points (Insider Advantage) and as much as 20 points (Suffolk University). In the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Gingrich by 12.5 points.

The polls reflect a stunning reversal of fortune for the former House speaker, who trounced Romney in theSouth Carolina primary only nine days ago by nearly 13 points. Gingrich is reacting defiantly, insisting that the Republican nomination race will go on all the way to the party’s convention in August.  

Candidates in trouble always say they’re in it for the long haul.

But in Gingrich’s case, he may mean it. He has long dreamed of becoming president, and at age 68, this is likely his last chance to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. But first, there’s the question of money.

“It is conceivable that Gingrich could stay alive but he has to replenish his campaign coffers first,” says Ford O’Connell, a former aide to the McCain campaign in 2008.

 

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Sabato: Gingrich Would Be Electoral Nightmare For GOP

Famed political prognosticator asserts that if former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wins the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, not only would he lose badly but Nancy Pelosi would likely again be Speaker of the House. Paul Bedard at U.S. News has more:

Newt Gingrich's nomination as the GOP presidential candidate would not only lock in an Obama victory in November, but would also keep the Senate in Democratic hands and make Nancy Pelosi speaker again, according to elections predictor Larry Sabato's UVa Crystal Ball team.

Simply put, says Sabato, it would be a "Newt-Mare."

Looking at the Electoral College map and recent state polls, the Crystal Ball team found that Mitt Romney would keep Republican states red and would help turn some purple states red, making it possible for the former Massachusetts governor to eke out a slim victory over President Obama.

"Romney's the closest thing out there to a generic Republican available. He is not going to steal the presidency away from the incumbent if Obama's having a good year and the economy is solid. Rather, if the country is ready to make a change, then Romney would be a credible alternative," says Sabato.

A Gingrich nomination, however, would be "a nightmare for Republicans" by turning many purple states blue and giving Obama a starting point of 303 Electoral Votes, 33 more than needed.

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Analysis: Republican Romney Back On Track In White House Race

Less than a week after a stinging setback in South Carolina, Romney moved ahead of rival Newt Gingrich again in Florida polls on Thursday and turned in his strongest debate performance yet in a seesawing Republican presidential race.

Three new polls showed Romney taking a solid 7- or 8-point lead in Florida hours before his confident and aggressive debate performance put Gingrich on the defensive repeatedly in their final showdown ahead of Tuesday's state primary.

But a Florida victory for Romney would put him in a strong position to capture the nomination, with the primary map tilting in his favor in February with contests in seven states where he has the potential advantage.

"If Mitt Romney wins in Florida, he'll be on cruise control all the way to Super Tuesday," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. Nine states hold contests on "Super Tuesday," on March 6.

"Florida is a make-or-break state for Gingrich because he needs to win to get his momentum back and restock his campaign coffers," O'Connell said. "He is spending everything he's got to compete with Romney in Florida."

Read more from John Whitesides at Reuters


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Ford O'Connell Discusses Obama's Re-Election Strategy, The Hispanic Vote And The Florida #GOP Primary

Ford O'Connell and Democratic Strategist Davide Mercer join Fox News' Chris Stirewalt on Fox News Live's Power Play to discuss President Obama's re-election strategy in the Southwest and Midwest, the role of the Hispanic vote in 2012, the bare knuckle brawl between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the Florida GOP primary and why the Republican 2012 primary calendar favors Romney after Florida. 

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Florida Is Do Or Die For Newt Gingrich

A loss in Florida would certainly be a devastating blow for Romney and could send the Republic establishment into a Chernobyl-like meltdown, possibly even scrambling to find a replacement candidate at the last minute, as former McCain presidential campaign adviser Steve Schmidt and others have suggested. And while many on the liberal left would love to see chaos ensue among the right, the reality of the situation is that Romney, whose campaign is fashioned for the long haul, can technically afford to suffer another defeat in this round, whereas for Gingrich, losing in Florida could put him down for the count.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: 'Is Newt's Moon Colony Idea Out To Lunch?'

Many Floridians see NASA as a vital cog in the Sunshine State’s economy and a key ingredient of American exceptionalism. Let us not forget that when President Obama chose to take the nation’s space program in a “new direction,” the state’s entire congressional delegation gave him more than an earful.

Is Newt Gingrich pandering for votes? Let’s put it this way, in an effort to hold off Mitt Romney, the former House Speaker is leaving no rock unturned, both in Florida and in outer space.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Has Gingrich Lost Momentum In Florida?

Newt Gingrich is trailing Mitt Romney in the Real Clear Politics polling average ahead of the Jan. 31 Florida Republican presidential primary. It seems that Gingrich is losing momentum from his decisive victory in South Carolina last week. This could of course change, if Gingrich has a great debate performance tonight in Jacksonville, Florida. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver chimes in:

[I]t looks as though Mr. Gingrich’s surge may have reached its apogee over the weekend — timed perfectly for his big win in South Carolina, but not necessarily for one in Florida next week.

Meanwhile, some of the anecdotal evidence still seems quite favorable for Mr. Gingrich: he has drawn much larger crowds than Mr. Romney to his events in Florida, for instance, which could be a sign that his voters are more enthusiastic and more likely to turn out.

And yet, that volatility suggests that even if Mr. Gingrich has lost the momentum, he might easily regain it again — for instance, if he performs well at the next debate on Thursday.


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