US election 2012: Mitt Romney styles himself as the inevitable nominee after …
Having spent the week – and millions of dollars – aggressively attacking Mr
Gingrich for his record in Washington and allowing high-profile political
allies to attack him as an “unhinged” and “erratic” character, Mr Romney
played peacemaker on Tuesday night, calling on the party to unite to defeat
“Primary contests are not easy,” he said. “And they are not supposed to be.”
Dismissing Democratic claims that the campaign would leave the eventual
nominee fatally bloodied, he said: “I’ve got news for them. A competitive
primary does not divide us, it prepares us – and we will win”.
Looking forward to the party convention, which is also due to be held in
Tampa, Mr Romney predicted: “Ours will be a united party with a winning
ticket for America”.
The result put Mr Romney back on a clearer path to the party’s nomination
after a volatile three weeks since he won the New Hampshire primary. As well
as his South Carolina loss, he had his Iowa Caucus win overturned on a
recount, destroying his claim to a historic double victory.
While Mr Gingrich remains arithmetically able to win after losing Florida so
badly, he faces a prolonged struggle against the vastly better financed
Romney campaign that many party strategists believe is practically
He remained strident and defiant at a primary night event in Orlando on
Tuesday night, where he declared that Florida had made clear the contest was
now “a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the
Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney”.
Standing amid placards and banners declaring “46 states to go”, he said: “We
are going to contest every place, and we are going to win, and we are going
to be in Tampa as the nominee in August”. He declined to congratulate Mr
Romney on his victory.
Despite his humbling loss, Mr Gingrich stubbornly continued to outline his
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