G.O.P. Turns Its Focus to Florida
A drastically reshaped Republican presidential campaign begins anew in Florida on Sunday as the party’s establishment confronts the likelihood of an extended and bitter leadership fight and the increasing possibility that Newt Gingrich could be its nominee.
Mr. Gingrich’s stunning victory over Mitt Romney in South Carolina on Saturday all but ensured 10 days of intense campaigning in Florida, which holds its primary on Jan. 31. Adding to the urgency: voters in Florida have already started mailing in absentee ballots.
A blitz of the television advertisements in Florida has begun, and the candidates are set to arrive there today. They face yet another nationally televised debate on Monday night in Tampa, Fla.
For some veterans in the party, Mr. Gingrich’s victory increased the very possibility that some of them fear — that the combative and volatile Mr. Gingrich with whom they had worked in Washington would become the new face of the party.
Speaking on the NBC News program “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning, Mr. Gingrich acknowledged those concerns and said he wore them as a badge of honor as he pushed forward toward the nomination. “The establishment is right to be worried about a Gingrich nomination,” he said. “We are going to make the establishment very uncomfortable. We are going to demand real change in Washington.”
Some of Mr. Gingrich’s former colleagues have warned — often anonymously — that he cannot be trusted to lead the party, or the country. “Newt’s absolutely brilliant,” an admirer who negotiated with him in Congress told The Daily News of New York on Saturday night. “He has 100 ideas; 97 are real good, the other three will blow up the world.”