The Primary in Florida
The victory for Romney confirms that dominance in money and organization still counts. So much for the Gingrich insurgency. They confirm the Republican establishment is not in fact on the run from whooping and hollering members of the Tea Party. The Tea Party is probably best seen now as a third party being absorbed under the umbrella of the Republican Party. This tends to be the story of third forces in American history. My Republican source sees Romney as being another George Herbert Walker Bush. He may, by the way, be veering towards Santorum as his vice-presidential running mate or Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey.
Another Republican source tells me:
Florida is a combination of several states demographically speaking. The panhandle is in the central timezone and the voting patterns resemble Alabama and Louisiana whose political interests are more like the old South. Social issues will resonate there. South Florida is comprised of economic migrants from the NE – people motivated chiefly by economic bread and butter issues, plus many Cubans and other Latinos. Central Florida has a huge number of seniors and retirees on fixed incomes, Most Jewish voters concentrated in South FL will tend to be registered as Democrats. However, those Jewish voters in the GOP primary will be motivated by the economy. Romney has the support of former Senator Mel Martinez which has been hugely helpful. Gingrich is starting to sound nuttier and more desperate.
My first source reminds me of the reality of Newt as many Republicans see him. They resent the fact that he wasn’t helping Ronald Reagan in 1980, was in fact invisible as Reagan fought his way through to the Republican nomination in that year. They resent him now posing as “the channeler” of Ronald Reagan. They see him as having hailed from a nondescript university and of having had three religions and three wives. As my source said, “He is without volume control or the off button.”
On Iran, an Australian foreign policy expert guesses that “in office Romney would run an old-school Republican foreign policy, aiming at something like George H. W. Bush’s. It’s very hard to predict what Gingrich would do because he is all over the place [but it could be that] he would be more bullish on the use of overt military force to interrupt Iran’s nuclear program.”
A Democrat from Washington told me:
Gingrich is nuts, like every other competitor to Romney for the nomination. And Romney himself has serious shortcoming but at least he is a plausible candidate for the presidency. The Republicans have swung sharply to the right and are far from any realistic program for dealing with the country’s problems.
An Australian in Washington says:
There are two new features in GOP politics. The first is most primaries are not winner take all. This makes it hard for a candidate not regularly polling more than 50 per cent to win on the first ballot. That is so in the case of the Democrats too but they offset it with 600 superdelegates who can make a plurality decisive. GOP does not but some big states are winner take all. Florida is one of them so it is vital to Romney. The second is we are seeing the Super PAC full throttle for the first time. They are introducing massive negative advertising without the degree of reticence that has historically been there in intra-party official ads. They have a fair chance of rendering all candidates unelectable in November. That is beginning to show in polling with Obama in the mix. One Superpac billboard sums all of Romney’s up: “No Newt is good Newt.”
I like the line from Vice-President Joe Biden, a one sentence defence of the Obama administration: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”