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2012: Romney in trouble?

The Tampa Bay Times: "Mitt Romney has enhanced his image as a front-runner by staying above the fray during a run of Republican debates, but Monday he sharply abandoned that approach to unleash a withering attack on the rival who threatens his claim to the nomination. The prospect of being flattened by the Newt Gingrich steamroller wonderfully concentrated Mitt Romney’s mind during last night’s NBC debate in Florida. Romney, suddenly in second place and falling fast after Gingrich slaughtered him in South Carolina, sent a simple and unambiguous message to GOP voters: This guy is trouble.”

Politico: “In only the first few days of the Florida campaign, every aspect of the GOP contest has blown up on a grand scale: the price of competing, the nastiness of the attacks and the cost of a potential defeat for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.”

In the most uncomfortable confrontation yet in these debates, in the first half-hour, Romney and Gingrich cut out the middleman — NBC’s Brian Williams — and went at each other. The problem for Gingrich and his undeniable momentum was that the issue was Gingrich,” The New York Post writes.

GINGRICH: Tim Alberta in National Journal, per Political Wire: "Like a stand-up comedian whose routine suffers without echoes of laughter egging him on, Newt Gingrich appeared to be a candidate without cadence Monday night when he found himself searching hopelessly for the secret weapons that have proven crucial to his season of strong debate performances: moderators to scold and audience members to energize."

ROMNEY: “Mitt Romney offered a partial snapshot of his vast personal fortune late Monday, disclosing income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million last year — virtually all of it profits, dividends or interest from investments,” the Washington Post reports. “None came from wages, the primary source of income for most Americans. Instead, Romney and his wife, Ann, collected millions in capital gains from a profusion of investments, as well as stock dividends and interest payments. The couple gave away $7 million in charitable contributions over the past two years, including at least $4.1 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romney’s family has for generations been among the Mormon Church’s most prominent members.” The Post also reports that his effective tax rate was 13.9%.

“Mitt Romney’s campaign released details of his federal tax returns on Tuesday morning, showing that he will most likely pay $6.2 million in taxes on $45 million in income over the two tax years of 2010 and 2011,” the New York Times reports, adding, “The disclosure — reported early Tuesday by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and financial wire services — showed a vast array of investments from a recently closed Swiss Bank account to holdings in Bermuda to the Cayman Islands, all underscoring the breadth and depth of his wealth that has become central in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.”

Reuters: “Bowing to increasing political pressure to provide more detail about his vast wealth, (Mitt Romney) the former private equity executive released tax returns indicating he and his wife, Ann, paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. They expect to pay a 15.4 percent rate when they file their returns for 2011. Romney's tax rate is below that of most wage-earning Americans because most of his income, as outlined in more than 500 pages of tax documents, flows from capital gains on investments.”