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Romney Wins Florida Primary, Routing Gingrich

Above: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to supporters as his wife Ann looks on during his Florida primary night party on January 31, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

With his impressive Florida win on Tuesday, Mitt Romney has re-established himself as the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. But he continues to face fervent opposition from some quarters, and a number of hurdles remain before he can claim the nomination.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had just under 47 percent of the vote, while second-place finisher Newt Gingrich had nearly 32 percent.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had about 13 percent, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 7 percent.

By taking the largest state to vote so far by a significant margin, Romney has recovered from Gingrich's decisive Jan. 21 win in South Carolina. But Gingrich vows to press on — as do Santorum and Paul.

The race will continue for an additional "six to eight months," Gingrich told ABC News on Tuesday — "unless Romney drops out earlier."

Such bold claims aside, the calendar appears to favor Romney, at least in the short term. Several states will hold caucuses and primaries in February. In many cases, they appear to offer favorable terrain for the former Massachusetts governor.

"It will be awful nice to greet him tomorrow after just such a profound and broad victory in Florida," says Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Romney's campaign chairman in the state. "Certainly it galvanizes the troops here."

After suffering a serious setback in South Carolina, Romney kept strongly on offense against Gingrich for more than a week, pummeling him with personal attacks and an ad campaign that has been estimated at five times the size of what Gingrich could muster.

Romney had sought to remain above the fray through much of the primary season, aiming most of his criticism toward President Obama rather than his Republican rivals. But Romney went directly and strongly after Gingrich through ads, robocalls and his own public statements.

Gingrich complained that Romney had been "relentlessly negative" and "blatantly dishonest." But he was never able to regain momentum following his poorly received performances in a pair of Florida debates last week.

Despite Romney's big margin, Gingrich remained defiant. He gave his remarks after the vote on Tuesday from behind a placard that read, "46 States to Go."

"It is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate," Gingrich said. "The voters of Florida really made that clear."

It wasn't just the attacks on Gingrich that were effective, but their sequencing, says Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida. Romney was able to raise questions about Gingrich's status as a Washington "influence peddler," then unleash a devastating ad showing vintage footage of NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw recounting the House vote in 1997 to reprimand him on ethics charges.

"There is one glaring Achilles' heel in Gingrich that has strongly been pointed out," says Pete Dunbar, a longtime Republican strategist and campaign consultant in Florida who is not working for any of the presidential candidates.

"When you look back at the personal behavior and the ethics sanction that was imposed on him by his own body, that has had a major impact," Dunbar says.

Romney's organizational strength also helped him push potential supporters who took advantage of the state's early and absentee voting procedures.

As was the case following earlier contests, Romney's victory speech in Tampa was marked by his sharp criticism of Obama.

"President Obama demonizes and denigrates almost every sector of our economy," Romney said. "I will make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for innovators and for job creators. And unlike the other people running for president, I know how to do that."

Florida marks a break in several important respects from earlier contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Florida was the first state to allow only registered Republican voters to participate in its nominating contest. It's also the first "winner take all" state, allocating all of its delegates to the national GOP convention to the primary winner (although that decision may well be challenged further down the road).

Romney hopes the big boost he will receive from his convincing victory will ease his path as the contest spreads to other states.

Attention quickly will shift to caucuses on Saturday in Nevada and Maine. Romney easily won Nevada's first-in-the-West caucuses in 2008 and his momentum out of Florida should give him a boost there.

Nevada polls had been showing some momentum for Gingrich, says Chuck Muth, a prominent conservative activist in the state who has been advising a superPAC that supports Gingrich.

But the blowout for Romney in Florida takes a lot of the wind out of Gingrich's sails, Muth says.

"Gingrich [needed] to keep it close in order to have a shot in Nevada at all," he says.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 31, 2012 at 11:25 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if Monsieur Willard Romney dines with Herr Papa Manchester when he is in town?

Don't forget, Willard is spending a scant $10 million dollars on renovating his La Jolla mansion.

Maybe Monsieur Willard and Herr Papa Puke knock back a few martinis on the jasmine-scented veranda at Willard's manoir, served to them on silver trays polished and carried by illegal migrant workers while they talk about things like how corporations are people and gays should never be allowed to have the same rights as everyone else.

The two old chaps can also share a giggle or two when a giddy Herr Papa coyly reveals his yellow journalistic plans for smear pieces against Obama and grandiose visions of front page papaganda extroidinaires declaring Monsieur Willard a prince of a candidate in his newly acquired Pravda Union Tribune.

By the way, why does Monsieur Willard Romney try and link Obama to "Socialized Europe"?

It's actually Monsieur Willard who speaks French and hid out in France during the Vietnam War.

While Americans were dying (as Willard wants to see repeating in Iran under his own regime), Mosieur Willard was savoring a posh life of creamy gruyères and fine bordeauxs in France.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 31, 2012 at 11:50 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

If you took the highest estimates of the net worths of Presidents Nixon, Ford Carter, HW Bush, Clinton, GW Bush, Clinton, and Obama and added them all up, you would still have to multiply by 2 to get Willlard Romney's net worth.

That is the kind of wealth that makes a **RULER**, not a President.

That's the kind of wealth that makes even a wealthy vanity tower builder cum marital-affair endulging Catholic divorcee cum anti-gay activist cum yellow journalism peddler blush with envy.

A Papaganda media monopoly, a Western White House in La Jolla, a pandering mayor that will kiss both of their ring fingers like DeMaio, the prospects must be dancing around in Papa's head at night like keeping him as giddy as a Republican at a race-restricted country club in the hills of Rancho Santa Fe.

Papa is probably so excited about the prospects of a Romney Presidency we might see him dye his hair jet black so he can put some of those wildly sexy Lily Munster distinguishing white streaks above his ears to match the dashing Republican hopeful.

It's going to be an interesting year!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 1, 2012 at 9:17 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Are you sure that's true even including the Bush's? CNNMoney has Smitten Romney at $21 million.

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Avatar for user 'Satariel'

Satariel | February 1, 2012 at 9:19 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

No!! Ron Paul!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'batmick'

batmick | February 1, 2012 at 11:36 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

It is ridiculous when these rich people, be it Romney, Gingrich, Obama, you name it, claim to be with the common man in their speeches and public appearances.

Mr. Romney knows as much about the problems of the average citizen as a fish knows about bicycles.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 1, 2012 at 12:01 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Mission, it's true, Romney is far riches than even the Bushs.

About the only person compatible to this kind of wealth is John Kerry because his wife was heiress to the Heinz wealth.

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