A new Quinnipiac poll of Florida has McCain at 32%, Romney at 31%, Giuliani at 14%, and Huckabee at 13% among likely primary voters.
It's actually impressive that McCain's camp has had such success in getting Iraq back on the front burner. With Romney finding his comfort zone with the economy, McCain's camp has decided to try and change the subject. "On Sunday, Mr. Romney went on the offensive first, opening a new line of attack on Mr. McCain over economic issues and declining to continue the previous day's spat over Iraq, calling it 'yesterday's news' at a news conference here. Instead, Mr. Romney sought to revive an argument he used in Michigan. He took Mr. McCain to task for his proposal of a 'cap and trade' system for carbon dioxide emissions, saying it would cause energy costs to skyrocket and be a drag on the economy."
"McCain campaigned on Sunday morning in Tampa with Gov. Charlie Crist, who endorsed him on Saturday. Mr. McCain continued his focus on national security, touching only sparingly on the nation's economic jitters."
"'Even if the economy is the, quote, No. 1 issue, the real issue will remain America's security,' Mr. McCain said to reporters, according to The Associated Press. 'And if they choose to say, "Look, I do not need this guy because he's not as good on home loan mortgages" or whatever it is, I understand about that, I will accept that verdict. I am running because of the transcendental challenge of the 21st century, which is radical Islamic extremism.'"
"Floridians often describe their state as a microcosm of the country with a diverse, albeit decidedly older population and profiles that vary widely in different parts of the state. McCain, Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee are not ignoring any regions because no group or area is monolithic. There are potential votes for every candidate in each place or segment of the population."
When in Florida… Romney "was not wearing his usual Boston businessman's uniform of French-cuff shirt and silk tie. Romney was wearing an open-necked ivory-white guayabera, the traditional Cuban men's shirt. 'It's an honor to be able to wear this guayabera today,' Romney told cheering Cuban-American supporters. …'I have a feeling I won't be wearing it throughout the campaign,' the buttoned-down former venture capitalist said, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his new garb. 'But I sure am proud of wearing it on such a warm day in Miami.'"
Giuliani yesterday acknowledged he was caught off guard by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's (R) backing of John McCain, NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger notes. "I was surprised at the governor's endorsement. But, you know, the governor has the right to endorse anyone that he wants," he told reporters after a rally at Paisano's Gourmet Pizza. "I think ultimately the voters of Florida are gonna vote based on who's best for Florida."
Also yesterday, Giuliani and his wife made a surprise stop by the press bus just before departure from Cocoa Beach, NBC's John Yang reports. Giuliani spoke briefly to camera, explaining that he's optimistic about his chances. He also said he's not thinking about Tsunami Tuesday. "We thinking about January 29 -- that's our day."
NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann reports that down to the wire in a key primary state, Huckabee yesterday hit two of the constituencies he has counted on during his freewheeling campaign. By lunchtime, the governor had already received the prayers of Baptists in Orlando and the cheers of Fair Tax advocates in Jacksonville. Badly in need of a momentum shift, the governor told reporters today that he's hoping for a "respectable" showing in Florida before moving on to Super Tuesday states like Alabama and Georgia.
Per NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Joe Lieberman joined McCain and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez at a town hall at the Villages yesterday.