GINGRICH: GOP 12 notes: “The Washington Post's Amy Gardner with the continuing fall-out from Newt's regularly scheduled implosion: ‘[Gingrich] abruptly canceled a meeting with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval after his campaign had arranged the photo opportunity at Sandoval's office in Carson City. Not even Gingrich's campaign advisers know why the campaign scheduler called it off, irking them and those in Sandoval's office who had helped set up the event… ‘You're a Republican presidential candidate coming into a state with a Republican governor,’ said one irritated Gingrich adviser who requested anonymity to speak freely. ‘It's common courtesy to meet him.’”
Michael Reagan to Gingrich: “I think the party needs to look past Ronald Reagan and look for that next, great leader.... learn from my father. Don't, in fact, try to be my father. Be yourself." (Hat tip: GOP 12.)
PAUL: “Four years ago, an angry and dispirited educational database expert named Carl Bunce walked out of Nevada’s state Republican convention after party leaders shut down the proceedings rather than let Representative Ron Paul’s supporters nominate delegates for the national convention in St. Paul,” the New York Times writes. “Mr. Bunce and a handful of other Paul backers made the trip to Minnesota, but he said that once there they were harassed by other Republicans who threatened to tear off their Paul buttons and even trailed them into bathrooms. Today, Mr. Bunce, 35, is running Mr. Paul’s Nevada campaign from a strip mall in this Las Vegas suburb. But this time, he and other Paul supporters are in the vanguard of the Nevada Republican Party: After the ugly scene at the state convention, they decided to work with the party that they felt had treated them as pariahs. It took time, and some rivalries remain intense, but now Mr. Paul’s Nevada backers are part of the state Republican machinery.”
Ron Paul to Hispanics in Politics, the oldest Latino political group in Nevada: "I believe Hispanics have been used as scapegoats, to say, they're the problem instead of being a symptom maybe of a problem with the welfare state. In Nazi Germany they had to have scapegoats to blame and they turned on the Jews.” Paul was the only candidate to attend.
“Whether he wins or loses the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul is celebrating a milestone. He and his wife, Carol, have been married 55 years on Wednesday,” AP writes. “The Texas congressman ended a press conference by presenting his bride with a bouquet of flowers. The couple shared a kiss and hug. … The couple planned to go out to dinner and attend a performance of “Phantom of the Opera”.
ROMNEY: NBC Nightly News on Romney’s day yesterday and the “poor” gaffe.
NPR sums it up: “Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney likely planned to spend Wednesday basking in the glow of his victory in Tuesday's Florida primary. Instead, he struggled to explain his comment that he's ‘not concerned about the very poor.’”
“The comment captivated the political chatter, at least for the day, because it seemed to reinforce what might be his rivals’ most potent line of attack against him: that Mr. Romney, with a net worth estimated at $200 million, is out of touch and unable to relate to struggling Americans,” the New York Times adds.
A Washington Post-Pew poll on empathy found President Obama beating Romney and Gingrich by a wide margin on the question of how well does the candidate understand the problems of average Americans. It’s Obama: 55% well/41 not well; Romney: 41%/39%; Gingrich: 36%/51%.
“Romney excoriated Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who announced in a speech in Brussels earlier in the day that US and international forces would end their combat role in Afghanistan in 2013 but continue a training and advisory role with Afghan forces through 2014,” the Boston Globe reports. “He announced that, he announced that so the Taliban hears it, the Pakistanis hear it, the Afghan leaders hear it,” Romney said with incredulity. “Why in the world do you go to the people that you’re fighting with and tell them the day that you’re pulling out your troops? It makes absolutely no sense. His naivete is putting in jeopardy the mission of the United States of America and our commitments to freedom. He is wrong. We need new leadership in Washington.”
More with Romney accusing the president of not understanding what it means to be American: “Romney concluded by lauding innovators, pioneers, builders, and others with spirit ‘in their DNA.’ He said, “I don’t think he has the feeling of this American spirit that drives us to be successful and to innovate and to create. And by the way, the success of some does not make the rest of us poorer. The success of some makes us all better off. … The president seems intent on dividing America, on replacing ambition with envy, on poisoning the very spirit of America by causing class warfare. This is wrong.”
The Globe’s Matt Viser: “Mitt Romney, fresh from a resounding victory in Florida, came to a warehouse here outside Minneapolis and, before he launched into his speech, had glitter poured atop his head by a protester.” Then he said, “Oh, I’ve got glitter in my hair. That’s not all that’s in my hair, I’ll tell you that. I glue it on every morning whether I need to or not.”
Viser points out this new phase in the campaign: “After a month in which all the contests were held in concentrated states, the campaign now becomes a more national campaign, with six states scattered around the country planning to vote this month. Romney released new radio ads in Colorado and Nevada.”
Heading for a blowout? “A new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll in Nevada finds Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential race with 45%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 25%, Rick Santorum at 11% and Ron Paul at 9%,” Political Wire writes.
SANTORUM: “A super-PAC supporting Rick Santorum's presidential campaign went up with the first ad in what the group describes as a series of ad buys Wednesday in Missouri, airing a commercial arguing that the former senator is the best ‘proven conservative’ to take on President Obama in the general election,” The Hill writes. (Note: Missouri’s upcoming contest doesn’t actually award delegates.)
“Former Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo endorsed Rick Santorum on Wednesday at an event in Lakewood, Colo.,” The Hill reports, adding, “Santorum also received the endorsements of former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-Colo.) and former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R), according to The Associated Press.”
The Weekly Standard writes that February could matter for Rick Santorum. “There's lots of speculation as to Gingrich's chances to mount a comeback against Romney, the clear frontrunner. But what if Newt's campaign collapses? What if he's simply jumped the shark with the ‘Holocaust survivors’ robocall? … What if Santorum does as well or better than Gingrich in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, or in the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses next Tuesday? What if Santorum is competitive with Romney in the Missouri beauty contest primary next Tuesday, where Gingrich isn't on the ballot? Couldn't non-Romney voters begin to move nationally from Gingrich to Santorum? Couldn't populist and Tea Party leaders like Sarah Palin do so as well?”