When Newt delivered his non-concession speech in Florida (no, he never did acknowledge Romney’s victory), he presented a series of bold promises of what he planned to achieve in his first day as president. There wasn’t a single commitment he described that Romney couldn’t echo or endorse—though his more pragmatic temperament might lead him to shy away from pledging to get it all done in the first 24 hours.
With Mitt’s big win in the Sunshine State, the frontrunner would surely welcome a less vitriolic tone in the contests that lie ahead: as the likely nominee, he must recognize the possibility that more negativity could leave serious stains on his gee-whiz, nice-guy, Boy Scout reputation. The best way to avoid the mud wrestling of Florida would be to focus on the real possibilities of positive change. Newt could plausibly argue that he’s promised reform that counts as bolder and more sweeping, while Romney might answer that his strategy for achieving such goals counts as more plausible and realistic. Newt could stress vision, while Mitt might emphasize his executive ability and steady leadership.
This sort of discussion might lack the visceral, rock-’em–sock-’em thrills of the last 10 days of cage fighting, but it could actually serve to strengthen the GOP brand for the upcoming challenge to President Obama, making both of the leading contenders look optimistic rather than angry, big rather than small.