As the polls indicated, Mitt Romney won the Florida primary on Tuesday night. He beat Gingrich by double digits, a solid win. He will be awarded all 50 delegates, as Florida is a winner takes all state.
Romney's speech was gracious. He was humble and stayed on point. He spoke about bringing back America to the vision of strength overseas and at home. His wife Ann introduced him with four of their five sons on stage, with a couple of daughters-in-law and a grandson, too. Ann Romney is a class act.
Romney stressed that a divided primary prepares us for the November election, it doesn't weaken us. "Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses", he said of the Obama presidency. And he reminded the audience that as Governor of Massachusetts he lowered taxes nineteen times and used the veto pen more than 800 times.
Rick Santorum was shown next from a small room in Henderson, Nevada with very enthusiastic supporters. He graciously congratulated Romney right away and spoke of toning down the negative chatter back and forth and focusing on the real issues.
Newt Gingrich was an enthusiastic loser. He sounded as though he was doing a stump speech and made use of the pointing finger throughout. He wasn't the angry Newt we have seen in the past. He remained above the fray and even layed out what he intends to do on the first day in office, should he be successful. He concentrated on taking his arguments to Obama, not the other candidates. He went on a bit too long. He ended with this:"I pledge to you my life, my fortunate & my sacred honor." A bit odd, but whatever.
It would have been good had he shown a bit of class and called Romney to congratulate him, as Romney did for Newt in South Carolina. But, class has never been Newt's strong suit.
Ron Paul spoke from Nevada,too. "If enthusiasm won elections, we'd win hands down". He does have enthusiastic supporters. He told his supporters to stop booing when he acknowledged Romney's win. He is focusing on the caucuses on Colorado, Nevada and Maine. You'd never know he finished in fourth place. He reminded the audience he is in third place for delegates, though. He is "campaigning for liberty".
The results prove that debates do matter - certainly the fact that Gingrich didn't do so well on the two in Florida were a factor in his second place showing. If his debating skills are his strongest selling point - and the silly claim that he will challenge Obama to three Lincoln-Douglas debates which Obama would never agree to - then he has to win every one. He doesn't. He feeds off the audience responses and without them, he loses. Romney has learned and become a better debater.
Back to the campaign trail for them all.