A Quinnipiac poll out yesterday gives Romney a 14-point edge in Florida, 43%-29%.
Campaign promises from Gingrich and Romney offer a portrait of their political styles, writes the Post.
The Tampa Bay Times lists five key counties to watch tonight: Pinellas, Seminole, Miami-Dade, Duval, and Escambia.
NBC’s John Bailey highlights some others: An interesting indicator will be Romney's strongest counties from the 2008 cycle. In 2008, Romney's stronghold was the Jacksonville area. Three of his five strongest counties were in and around Jacksonville -- in St. Johns County, Duval County, and Clay County, Romney won by more than 10 percentage points. Romney's largest margin of victory was in Collier County, home to Naples. He did not do well, however, in the counties in and around Tampa, which account for two of the three counties with the most GOP voters in Florida. But in 2008, Romney was running as a conservative alternative to John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Last cycle, Romney won 44 percent of voters who described themselves as "Very conservative" -- 24 percentage points more than even Mike Huckabee. This cycle, Romney occupies a more moderate territory in the GOP field. So while he may not repeat victories in conservative counties, but he may make inroads in the voter-rich areas near Tampa.
GINGRICH: The Miami Herald analyzes the impact early voting could have on the Gingrich-Romney margin today – and it’s not good news for the former Speaker. “At least 632,000 Republicans have already cast ballots,” the Herald writes. That would be about a third of the total number of people who went out to vote in the GOP primary in 2008. The means, the Herald writes, Gingrich could be down as much as 60,000 to 75,000 votes before the polls even open.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Galloway writes, “Newt Gingrich [yesterday] tossed the kitchen sink — no doubt properly cleaned and blessed — at Mitt Romney down in Florida. Gingrich said of Romney, ““He eliminated serving kosher food for elderly Jewish residents under Medicare. I did not know this, it just came out yesterday. The more we dig in, I understand why George Soros in Europe yesterday said it makes no difference if it’s Romney or Obama, we can live with either one.”
The line of attack originated with a New York Post article, which reported: “Mitt Romney is getting heat for a 2003 veto he cast as governor of Massachusetts to reject $600,000 in additional funds for poor Jewish nursing-home residents to get kosher meals. At the time, Romney said he nixed the funding of about $5 per day because it ‘unnecessarily’ would lead to an ‘increased rate for nursing facilities’ — even as kosher nursing homes were complaining that state-funding-formula changes could force them to close their kitchens.”
The Boston Globe writes: “Gingrich kept up the criticism of Mitt Romney as he barnstormed Florida today, accusing Romney of running roughshod over the religious convictions of Catholic hospital administrators and denying Jewish seniors kosher meals when he was governor. … In a state heavy with Jewish retirees, the former House speaker, who is slipping behind in the polls, was trying to score some points among a key part of the electorate.”
On the Catholic hospitals charge, the Globe writes, “Gingrich did not explain the Catholic hospital reference. But it could be about a decision Romney made in 2005 that said all hospitals in the state were required to provide the Plan B birth control pill under Medicaid. At the time, Romney said the decision was made based on legal advice from a state attorney, according to Globe coverage of the issue.”
PAUL: Snoop Dogg endorsed Ron Paul. Other celebrity endorsers: Kelly Clarkson, Joe Rogan and Vince Vaughn. Snoop posted a picture of Ron Paul with "smoke weed everyday" on his Facebook page, which also included this message: "because I said so." It already has more than 21,000 likes and 3,000 comments. No word from the campaign if Snoop will appear alongside Dr. Paul this week in Vegas. In September, Vaughn joined Paul in Reno.
PERRY: According to FEC reports, Rick Perry raised just $2.9 million in from October to December of last year, a fraction of the $17 million he raised during his first quarter as a candidate.
A campaign must read: “Requiem for a campaign: Rick Perry’s rise and fall,” by Carrie Dann.
ROMNEY: The Times says of Romney’s margin in Florida that his team “is not just playing to win here, but to win as big as possible, aides said, preferably by more than the 12-point margin Mr. Gingrich had in the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21. The Romney team wants to do so not just for bragging rights or out of ego, but to try to stave off a protracted nomination fight and undercut Mr. Gingrich’s promise to take the campaign all the way to the convention here in August.”
“Newt Gingrich complains Mitt Romney has waged the nastiest, most untruthful campaign he can recall after he upset the heretofore GOP presidential front-runner in South Carolina,” the Boston Globe writes. “He should dial the time machine back to 2000 and talk to John McCain. George W. Bush, stunned by an 18-point New Hampshire primary loss to McCain, waged a scorched-earth campaign that year against him in, of all places, South Carolina. Now Romney, employing a campaign with striking parallels, is on the cusp of the same kind of agenda-setting win in Florida today that Bush scored 12 years ago.”
The Boston Globe looks at how Mitt Romney talks about his father’s birth in Mexico when wooing Florida voters.
“One of these days, Newt!” the New York Post writes. Mocking Gingrich’s plan for an American moon colony, Romney said yesterday, “Send him to the moon!”
SANTORUM: WaPo looks at Santorum’s choice to remain in the GOP race despite his disabled daughter’s recent hospitalization.