Some front pages:
The New York Times: “The victory was the first for Mr. Romney that came without an asterisk. His narrow advantage on the night of the Iowa caucuses was overturned two weeks later in the certified results. His New Hampshire win was discounted by his Republican rivals because he was seen as a favorite son from a neighboring state. But his strong finish in Florida, which drew more voters than the first three contests combined, represented an extraordinary turnaround for his prospects to win the nomination. The outcome of the race, his advisers argued, should ease the qualms among some Republicans that he is not sufficiently conservative.”
National Review’s Costa: “Mitt Romney galloped to victory in Florida, but it was an expensive coup. He took a hit at the bank, outspending his rivals. He also paid a political price. Romney landed a devastating blow to Gingrich’s candidacy, but the bruise from the fight remains, and it may sting as he scrambles to assert himself as the probable nominee. Conservatives, already skeptical of Romney’s politics, are grumbling about his internecine aggression. Granted, Gingrich is hardly an angel, and simmering discomfort over Romney’s ruthlessness will not derail him. But a growing unease with Romney’s big-dollar blitz may stir sympathy for Gingrich and encourage the former House speaker to carry on with vengeance. … If Romney isn’t careful, a wounded, bloodied Gingrich may be more dangerous than a slow Gingrich fade.”
Jim Geraghty at NRO writes of five lessons from Florida: (1) The gender gap returned, (2) The elderly abandoned Newt, (3) The Early Bird Special (early voting benefited Romney), (4) Romney ran stronger among evangelicals than the narrative suggests, and (5) The geography of a swing state matters.
The Boston Globe: “Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney swept to victory today in the Florida Republican presidential primary, surging past former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who had tangled with him in a campaign that was notable for its nastiness.
“A defiant Gingrich showed no signs of getting out of Romney’s way, vowing to continue his campaign.”
Gingrich’s campaign handed out signs, and Gingrich stood at a podium with the sign on it, that read: “46 states to go.”
Romney on NBC’s Today show this morning was asked if Gingrich called last night. Romney confirmed that he did not and noted that he called Gingrich after South Carolina, but Gingrich didn’t call after Iowa or New Hampshire, either. "I guess speaker Gingrich doesn't have our phone number," Romney said before laughing.
NBC’s Garrett Haake confirms Romney will now receive Secret Service protection after Florida.
The New York Post: “Newt nuked in Romney romp.”
“When [Romney] suffered a defeat to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, he was forced to set aside his general election preparations to dispense with his lingering challengers with ferocity,” the Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson writes. “Yet after winning the Florida primary, Romney made his pivot back to targeting his expected general election opponent, President Obama, and beyond Gingrich and his remaining primary opponents, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.”
Romney heads to Minnesota today for a rally. Minnesota holds a caucus Feb. 7. But: “Aides to Romney and the Minnesota congresswoman [Michele Bachmann] have been in conversation in recent days about securing the candidate’s endorsement by the Tea Party favorite and forceful public speaker, The Boston Globe has learned. Not only would it add to the impression of Romney consolidating the GOP base after rebounding in Florida from his South Carolina loss, but it could help Bachmann by earning her an ally to help her pay off her lingering campaign debt.”
For the record, Romney also said yesterday that Gingrich shouldn’t “whine” about negative ads. “I’ll tell you, if you attack me, I’m not going to just sit back, I’m going to fight back and I’m going to fight back hard,” Romney said, the Boston Globe notes. “So he really can’t whine about negative campaigning when he launched a very negative campaign in South Carolina and when the people here in Florida looked at the different campaigns have concluded that his was the most negative.”
Rick Santorum targeted Gingrich in his speech last night, and he has an ad up in Nevada that hits Gingrich, likening him to President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. “He doesn’t just talk a good conservative game,” an announcer says, “he lives it.”