JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) – Republican presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich clashed bitterly over illegal immigration on Thursday night at a contentious debate that will set the stage for Florida’s primary vote in five days.
The neck-and-neck nature of the race for Florida and its crucial implications for the Republican presidential nomination added a level of tension in the debate arena at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville as the candidates sparred.
Republican some-time folk hero Ron Paul has been mostly missing in action in Florida, a winner-take-all primary state that votes next Tuesday. Currently pulling down only about 10 percent support in the Sunshine State, the Texas Congressman has opted to seek out more fruitful pastures in his quest to assemble delegates for the 2012 convention. Paul’s yard sign elves remain busy, though, and Paulite insurgents have shown up at a number of other events, sometimes jostling with supporters of, for example, Rick Santorum.
But fear not, fans in Florida or elsewhere. A new, virtual version is only a few clicks away, thanks to the pro-Paul RevolutionPAC.
COCOA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich likes to be known as an ideas guy. His brainstorms can seem straight out of science fiction – establishing a colony on the moon – or the novels of Charles Dickens – putting poor children to work as janitors.
The long line of head-scratchers provides fodder for his opponents to attack Gingrich’s “electability.” The thought process that might lie behind the ideas – like suggesting mandatory drug testing for federal aid applicants – also contributes to the candidate’s reputation as a polarizing figure in the Republican race to pick a challenger to Democratic President Barack Obama in November’s election.
MIAMI (Reuters) – He may not have much money or a ground game to speak of in Florida but Republican Rick Santorum will not pull out of the presidential race – much to the chagrin of rival Newt Gingrich and probably to the delight of a bruised Mitt Romney.
After Gingrich scored a resounding win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, the former House speaker badly wants to unite conservative and Tea Party elements of the Republican party behind him ahead of Florida’s January 31 vote.
FOXBORO, MA (Reuters) – New England quarterback Tom Brady notched a playoff win for the first time in four seasons and said victories, not records, are his number one priority.
The three-times Super Bowl winner schooled his highly-touted young opponent Tim Tebow in leading the Patriots to a 45-10 thrashing of the Denver Broncos on Saturday in the AFC divisional playoff game.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman put a brave face on a third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday that kept him in the White House race but raised questions about how much longer he can hold on.
After campaigning almost exclusively in New Hampshire in recent months, Huntsman pulled in 17 percent, with votes counted from two-thirds of the state’s precincts.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Mitt Romney took a crucial step toward the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday as he scored a solid victory in New Hampshire despite blistering attacks on his record as a businessman.
With 25 percent of precincts reporting, the former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive had won 37 percent of the vote. He outpaced rivals Ron Paul, a U.S. congressman known for libertarian views, and Jon Huntsman, a moderate former U.S. ambassador to China. Paul was drawing about 24 percent and Huntsman 17 percent.
WOLFEBORO, New Hampshire (Reuters) – If Mitt Romney gets his wish, the ranks of presidential retreats that include Crawford, Texas, and Rancho del Cielo near Santa Barbara, California, could soon be joined by Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
Big change could be coming to the rustic but affluent lakeside resort town on Lake Winnipesaukee if front-runner Romney becomes Republican nominee Romney, and ultimately President Romney after the November 2012 election.
Insurgent Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum might have a blinking problem, according to an analysis by a research associate at the University of Minnesota.
Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist who writes the non-partisan Smart Politics blog, said that Santorum blinked at more than twice the rate of the rest of the Republican field during Saturday night’s ABC News presidential debate in Manchester.
CONCORD, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Republican front-runner Mitt Romney emerged on Sunday from back-to-back debates in New Hampshire a bit dinged but not seriously dented as rivals stepped up attacks to slow his march toward the presidential nomination.
Two days before voters in the small New England state head to the polls for the first 2012 primary election, Romney took heat on a number of topics: his record as governor of neighboring Massachusetts, the attack ads run by an outside group on his behalf and a suggestion he would wither in the face of attacks from Democratic President Barack Obama.