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Politics

Hotline Sort: Tarheel Blues

January 27, 2012
3) Some harsh words for Newt Gingrich from Jeb Bush, who wants the former speaker to stop perpetuating the idea that aides to Mitt Romney, who used to work for Charlie Crist, are part of a moderate Republican conspiracy. "That's not a serious accusation," Bush told National Review. "Candidates win elections. I'm not a big Charlie Crist fan, as you recall, but these guys shouldn't have that moniker attached to them, as if Governor Romney is part of some evil plot. That's ridiculous." Rubio -- though he is neutral in the GOP race -- has already stepped in to defend Romney along similar lines. They may not be endorsing Romney, but they're clearly taking sides. 2) Romney turned in an impressive debate performance in Florida on Thursday evening, while Gingrich, who was sharp in South Carolina, seemed to lose a bit of his edge and was unsteady at times. The debate was two hours long, but its most instructive portion may have been the very beginning, as Ron Brownstein explains:

By luck of the draw, the debate's first two questions allowed Romney to conspicuously position himself to Gingrich's right-and in so doing may have sealed Romney's advantage in the state. ... In the debate's first half-hour, it was Romney who identified both with conservative and populist causes through an extended discussion about illegal immigration and then housing (which again allowed him to criticize Gingrich for his work for Freddie Mac).

The GOP race has largely been shaped by the frequency of debates. But the next one isn't until Feb. 22 in Arizona, and there's no telling what the shape of the race may look like by then. 1) Following a roller coaster week, it now appears once again that Romney is in solid position in the lead-up to Tuesday's Florida primary. Prominent figures are coming to his defense, he's turned in two consecutive solid debate performances, he's viewed in polls as more electable than Gingrich and this morning, in a new Quinnipiac poll, he leads the ex-speaker 38-29 percent. Romney has a ways to go with conservatives, according to the survey, but he can't be unhappy with the week he's had.
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