January 22, 2012

More GOP muddle ahead in Florida?

It's a populous state, and it's winner-take-all. That means it's going to be pricey as hell for advertising. Add in that all three of the non-Ron Paul, non-Buddy Roemer GOP candidates remaining in the race have sought former Gov. Jeb Bush's endorsement and not gotten it, this could be fun.

Santorum doesn't sound like he has the money to compete. Even with his money bomb donations, I know Paul doesn't. Gingrich campaign and Gingrich super-PAC money both fall short of Romney, but ... never say never.

This is a southern state, and Newt will have no problems playing the politics of race and other things. On the other hand, its old Northern retirees include Republicans as well as Democrats. Romney could "win" even by losing, if he forces Gingrich to bankrupt himself and to look combustible.

That said, Romney could lose even in winning if he doesn't heed Jeb Bush's hint and release his old tax returns ASAP. Count on Team Obama to "run" with that issue.

For both Gingrich and Romney, two things are key:
1. Managing the "expectations" game and
2. Running respectably, even in losing.

Losing by more than a dozen percentage points, for either one, will look bad.

For Santorum, not totally writing off Florida is key. Especially if he can make Newt work for conservative voter support, and threaten to deny him victory, he needs to keep at least a toe in the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile, Santorum has to be disappointed that, in South Carolina at least, his "he's the one" endorsement by a national powwow of religious conservatives translated into ... nothing more than a frothy Santorum mix.

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