“Mitt Romney’s goal in Florida is no longer just winning.

“After Gingrich Newt scored a surprise blow-out victory in South Carolina last week, the former Massachusetts governor not only unleashed a political broadside of epic proportions.

“‘It not about winning here anymore,’ one Romney staffer told BuzzFeed. ‘It’s about destroying Gingrich — and it’s working.'”

***

“It’s clear that the negative attacks on Gingrich have been the major difference maker over the last week. His net favorability has declined 13 points from +23 (57/34) to only +10 (50/40) in just five days. Romney has pretty much stayed in place. At the beginning of the week he was at +31 (61/30) and now he’s at +33 (64/31)…

“Voters in South Carolina who were most concerned about electability voted for Newt, and our first post-South Carolina Florida poll showed equal numbers of voters seeing Gingrich and Romney as the candidate with the best chance of defeating Barack Obama. Those numbers have shifted in a major way over the last five days with 50% now seeing Romney as most electable to only 23% for Gingrich. Whether it’s the attacks on Newt or a slew of polls released this week that showed Romney’s competitive in Florida and Gingrich is not, he lost a lot of ground on that front.”

***

“‘You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest. You just can’t,’ [Gingrich] said. ‘The people say I’m a good debater. I can’t debate somebody who won’t tell the truth.’

“Gingrich said he admittedly backed down at Thursday’s debate. He went back and watched the last two debates and was not happy with either one of them.

“‘A couple scenes you can go back and replay, I’m staring in amazement. I know what he’s saying is untrue. And I also know that in that particular audience it would not have worked to take him head on,’ Gingrich said.”

***

“‘He’s on TV this morning going from station to station complaining about what he thinks were the reasons he thinks he’s had difficulty here in Florida,’ Romney told an audience of roughly 2,000 at an outdoor rally. ‘But you know, we’ve got a president who has a lot of excuses, and the excuses are over, it’s time to produce.’…

“‘If we failed somewhere, if we failed the debate, if we failed to get the support of people, it’s time to look in the mirror. And my own view is the reason that Speaker Gingrich has been having a hard time in Florida is that people of Florida have watched the debates, have listened to the speaker, have listened to the other candidates and have said, ‘You know what, Mitt Romney’s the guy we’re going to support,” he said.”

***

“If [the establishment] had a real understanding of why Newt surged, and why their preferred candidate has failed to connect with voters, they would have kept McCain and Dole as far from cameras and microphones as possible. To many, Romney is the best Republicans have in their current field of candidates, but to openly associate him with the same tired, uninspiring cast of characters of elections past is more than just bad political strategy. The tone-deafness of the Republican establishment could not be more astounding.

“The voters want someone who understands their frustration, anger, and concern for the future of the country. They are tired of candidates too timid to say it like it is, candidates so afraid to offend the smallest of minorities with uncomfortable truths they instead exasperate the majority through monotonous political-speak, media-safe answers, and unfulfilled promises.

“The stakes are higher than ever. The Republican base is ready. Their message is loud and clear.”

***

“Romney says he understands the conservative reluctance about him, and he names its source: Romneycare. ‘I think what happened between four years ago and today is that President Obama took his 2,700-page Obamacare bill and tried to stretch the sheep’s clothing of the Massachusetts health-care plan around it,’ he says. ‘I think that to some Republicans that meant that I was somehow responsible for what he did. And that allowed some people to characterize me as being moderate, because it sounded like the president and I were on the same page.’…

“Meanwhile, Romney works on regaining his inevitability. He went to Florida fully aware of the concern that he’d not be able to make a forceful case against Obama this fall. ‘I’m not worried about the attacks that come my way,’ he said. ‘If I can’t handle what’s coming now, when I face the onslaught of a billion dollars from the Democratic National Committee and President Obama’s campaign, I’d wither.'”

***

“‘I believe the Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts,’ the former House speaker said.

“Gingrich repeated the phrase ‘pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro-tax increase’ again during a 10-minute gaggle with reporters. He also began Sunday to wrap Romney’s ties to Wall Street into his attacks on the former Massachusetts governor…

“This is a campaign about the future of America and the future of the Republican party. Do you want an insider who’s part of the system, who’s been accepting huge amounts of taxpayer money to prop up giant institutions?” Gingrich said, making another reference to Wall Street. ‘Or do you want someone who’s prepared to challenge that system head on and insist on very dramatic change in Washington?”

***

“Electability, being able to beat President Obama, mattered most to GOP primary voters — and those voters chose Romney. That could be why a majority — 55 percent — said they wanted the nomination fight to be over quickly. Forty-three percent said they would like to see someone else run; just 52 percent said they were satisfied with the current crop of candidates.

“‘This speaks to a lack of enthusiasm,’ Miringoff said. ‘People are a little fatigued with the process.'”

***

Via Mediaite.

***

“We need somebody who is engaged in sudden and relentless reform and isn’t afraid to shake up that establishment. So, if for no other reason, rage against the machine, vote for Newt; annoy a liberal, vote Newt. Keep this vetting process going, keep the debate going.”