Who Won the Florida Republican Debate? Mitt Romney Surging, Rick Santorum Second, Newt Gingrich Falling

This past Monday during the NBC Republican debate, Mitt Romney brought a gun to a knife fight. Tonight at the CNN debate, he brought a tank. Gone are the days of Romney being the ultimate relaxed and cool candidate. Many Romney enthusiasts (myself included) are saying one thing: Finally!

The debate began with an intense discussion on immigration. When Gingrich attempted to hit Romney hard about deporting "grandmas." Romney rightly shot back by saying that the problem is not "eleven million grandmas." Romney cited on how his father was born in Mexico and his wife's mother was both in Wales, and called Gingrich "repulsive" for calling Romney anti-immigrant.

When Gingrich attempted to take down Romney by saying that he held stock in Fannie and Freddie. Romney didn’t blink. He hit back about having his investments made in blind trust. A lot of people with Romney’s wealth rely on blind trusts, and Romney did so to avoid conflicts of interest. 

Romney defended his wealth and diversified portfolio, much to the chagrin of those who lead the charge on class warfare. When it came to discussing reigning in expenses, Mitt took a diplomatic approach to spending, talking about wanting to increase the space program, while making sure not to promise too much. Talking about only helping NASA to a point is risky when in Florida, but he said it cordially.  


He didn’t just keep his targets on Newt. Romney said that Obama’s SOTU speech this past Tuesday was reminiscent of "Groundhog Day," repeating the bulk of his previous SOTU addresses. (Bill Murray was much funnier than Obama.) When Santorum tried to label Mitt as Obama Jr. with regards to RomneyCare, Romney went after Santorum with statistics about his health care law, as well as expressing the fact that he was not happy with everything that went into it. 

Most importantly of all perhaps, he talked about how he had become more conservative as time went on. He talked about taking any chance he got to vote against Bill Clinton or Teddy Kennedy. Republicans like to see someone grow and come over to their side, and no doubt that scored a few points. Ronald Reagan took the same approach in going from a liberal to a more conservative.

In his final statement on why he could beat President Obama, Romney touted his experience in the private sector as an experienced businessman and as someone who has never been to Washington.  He spoke of how he was someone who could stand in stark contrast to the path that the president has put America on, which is that of a European style social-welfare state.

Recent polls have found Romney back on top in the Sunshine State. With weeks of advertising, early voting will no doubt work to his advantage. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, rising star in the GOP and Tea Party darling, also attacked Gingrich this week for his ‘unfair’ attacks on Romney. No doubt this will help to continue Romney’s rise back to the top, from Pensacola, to the Space Coast, and down to South Beach and Key West.

With two solid debate performances under his belt, Romney appears to now be on a roll. If things continue to go this way, next week could be a very good one for the former Massachusetts Governor.