As he proclaimed his victory last night in Florida, Mitt Romney launched his campaign against President Obama sounding like the Republican nomination process was over and his opponents were history. He has become a different person since he brought in his new advisers and opted to aggressively attack his rivals. Romney now is demonstrating a much smoother style not only in the last Florida debate but in his scripted presentations as well. This is likely to be his strategy as he seeks to maintain his momentum through Super Tuesday, seeking delegates and raising money. Then, he can see what the delegate counts looks like.
On the other hand Newt Gingrich did not even congratulate the victor but continued his attacks as he sought to capitalize on some free air time to make sure everyone understood that he was still very much in the hunt for delegates. For him, the fight for the nomination was hardly over; although he desperately needs some close races in February to pick up delegates and help him raise money. He, too, awaits Super Tuesday, where he should win at least some of the southern states.
Rick Santorum sounded ready to continue to fight on against the Romney financial juggernaut– at least for the moment—as he waits for Gingrich to implode; while Ron Paul travelled on committed to collecting delegates in the battle, almost oblivious to the main fight.
On another level, last night once again proved the enormous clout that the SuperPACS can and will have in the campaign. The amount of media bought in Florida by these Pacs and the funds already allocated ahead are staggering. This primary night also coincided with the Federal Election Commission’s release of the candidates’ reports of funds raised through the end of 2011. Some are now predicting that the totals to be spent this year by President Obama—who has raised the most by far—together with all the Republican candidates will exceed $500 million dollars. According to the Wesleyan Media Project $28.9 million was spent from January 11-25, 2012 in Florida of which $15 million was so-called interest group monies.
One other number worth noting, as it explains why only Romney may have the legs for this campaign, is that it costs over $100,000/day of non-Pac money merely to sustain a campaign’s daily operation.