While driving tonight from our home in Columbia, Tennessee, to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain National Park, I got so enthralled with the election coverage that I missed our exit and drove fifty miles out of the way. But nothing could dampen our spirits. What a great, great night. Here’s a sample of the best coverage.
That’s the lesson of Florida, where Mitt Romney overwhelmed Newt Gingrich on the air and in every other aspect of the campaign. He out-organized him, out-messaged him, and out-researched him, if an exchange in the last debate where Romney seemed to know more about Gingrich’s investments than Gingrich himself is any indication.
Gingrich the historian has any number of analogies he can draw on — he was the Persians at Marathon, the French at Agincourt, the Zulus at Rorke’s Drift. In short, he got wiped out.
It was a blowout. Mitt Romney won Florida by double digits, taking virtually every economic, ideological and other subset of voters. He carried all but “very conservative” voters and “strongly supports Tea Party” voters. Romney soared past the 45 percent mark, won more than the combined votes for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and re-established himself as the most favorably-regarded and most-acceptable candidate in a diverse, large state that the GOP much carry in November.
Moreover, he won the contest on the strength of his debate performances (previously a strength for Gingrich) and now has a huge lead in money and organization as the race spreads out across the country.
Mitt Romney’s huge win tonight in Florida was sufficiently large that it is not possible to interpret it as anything but a stamp of approval from a broad cross-section of Republican voters in a closed primary. Given that by the last week the primary had become a two-man race, it is also impossible to avoid the conclusion that it was a resounding rejection of Newt Gingrich. Gingrich appears likely to take the sore loser scenario in the coming weeks as he attempts to foul the well for the likely nominee by branding him as not just a relative moderate — which is what Romney actually is — but a liberal. Gingrich may be able to convince his large donors to fund a last ditch and probably futile effort to derail the frontrunner. But he is unlikely to persuade most Republicans they are better off with a crippled nominee simply to vent his personal spleen at Romney for having beaten him at his own game with negative ads.
Let’s not forget, well, me. On CNN:
Many evangelicals are angry, and rightly so. They’re angry with a president who embraces abortion rights, who restricts religious liberty and who saddles their children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt. They understand the necessity of protecting life and the imperative of financial stewardship.
But they also understand that we don’t discard our core values for the sake of political victories. Fidelity, honesty, humility and charity matter.
No one doubts that God forgives, but only God knows Newt Gingrich’s heart. We only know his actions, and we know that he has a history of deceiving even those who are closest to him.
Three other Republican candidates are anti-abortion. Three other Republican candidates have been faithful and honest in their personal and professional lives. With honest alternatives to choose from, evangelicals will soon abandon Gingrich.
And one final, critical note. According to the Washington Post, Mitt won the evangelical vote!
This was a great night, worth savoring for a few hours. Then, on to Nevada.