The Republican presidential nomination race is down to the last four candidates. It’s been a long and bumpy road, but now it has become obvious who the frontrunners are. And last night’s Florida GOP debate showed exactly that, as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were head-to-head, while Santorum and Paul had an ordinary performance.
Thursday’s debate was the last before the Florida primary next Tuesday. It was also the last chance for candidates to convince the audience and supporters they do have what it takes to stand their ground in the elections against president Barack Obama.
Ahead of the debate, everybody was expecting the favorites, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and White House speaker Newt Gingrich to clash aggressively. And that’s exactly what happened, but with a twist. Surprisingly, the feisty Gingrich didn’t show up at the Florida debate, but Romney assailed him repeatedly.
Politico writes that “Newt Gingrich turned in an oddly passive debate performance that left his supporters scratching their heads and illustrated his unpredictable and even whimsical style”. During the debate, Gingrich had “either soft-pedaled his attacks against Romney or failed to make them altogether”, leaving everyone baffled.
Unaligned GOP strategist Curt Anderson told Politico that it is obvious Gingrich showed that he is not disciplined to run a presidential campaign. Plus, it’s clear “he came into this debate with no plan and no strategy to win it. If he had won this debate tonight, he would have won Florida, and pandemonium would have set in within the Republican Party”.
On the other hand, Mitt Romney did not miss the opportunity to take on Gingrich. The former Massachusetts Governor accused a sedated Gingrich of “repulsive” and “over the top rhetoric” that was meant to twist his position on immigration and demanded an apology in the first minutes of the debate for calling him the most anti-immigrant candidate among the Republicans.
And that wasn’t all. Mitt Romney got the time to respond to Gingrich’s past attacks regarding his wealth and income taxes. Surprisingly, Gingrich refused to react and Romney found his reaction a good opportunity to launch another attack saying: “Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?”
The winner in the Florida primary will get all of the state’s 50 convention delegates.