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Romney 'Destroying' Gingrich in Florida, More

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Mitt Romney greets supporters at a campaign rally at Pioneer Park in Dunedin, Florida.
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

After losing to Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina and then briefly running behind him in Florida, Mitt Romney has opened up a 14-point lead in the Sunshine State ahead of tomorrow's primary vote. But the former Massachusetts governor isn't leaving anything to chance. As a Romney staffer reportedly put it, "It's not about winning here anymore. It's about destroying Gingrich — and it's working." The Romney campaign continues to savage Gingrich in TV ads, email blasts — sample subject lines: "Earth to Newt: Tell the Truth" and “An Overdose of Grandiose” — and on the stump, where Romney relentlessly questions the former Speaker's leadership capabilities, moral character, and mental stability.[Buzzfeed, Time, New York Times]

In other campaign news:

Gingrich isn't taking Romney's attacks lying down. A new ad from the pro-Newt Super PAC Winning Our Future suggests that Romney was personally associated with "illegal activity" in a massive Medicare fraud in the 1990s. The ad, called "Blood Money," is inaccurate; Romney served on the board of directors at Damon Corp., the company that committed the fraud, before the events in question. [iWatch News]

Republican presidential candidates have aggressively courted Florida's Hispanic voters ahead of tomorrow's primary, but President Obama, too, has been busy wooing the influential group. In an interview with Spanish-language TV network Univision last week, Obama made sure to tout the changes to immigration policy his administration has made since the summer: refocusing deportations on criminals, reviewing all pending deportation cases and, most recently, tweaking its green-card policy. The changes haven't garnered much press in the mainstream American media, but "you can see that in the Spanish media all the time," a writer for Spanish-language paper La Opinión told reporters. "The administrative relief measures: That’s something important." [Politico]

Gingrich has vowed to stay in the race until the GOP nomination convention, "so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny," writes New York's John Heilemann. Even after being relentlessly mocked for his outer space aspirations, Gingrich's "lunar lunacy is still intact:" the man is nothing if not stubborn. And it's that stubbornness that could create headaches for Romney and the GOP establishment right to the bitter end. [New York]

The Washington Post takes a look at the issue of wealth in presidential campaigns, comparing Mitt Romney to moneyed predecessors like John F. Kennedy and Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt. Romney made his own money, but grew up amid great wealth, and he's made frequent missteps — labeling his six-figure speaker's fees as "not very much," challenging Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet — coming across as a man out of tune with the people he seeks to represent. "Romney has a tin ear that comes from having lived in a bubble his whole life," said Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr., who writes about American attitudes toward wealth. "He never worked in a business full of middle class and poor employees. He seems nervous about the issue of money.” [Washington Post]

Both Gingrich and Romney have recently endorsed a plan to do away with bilingual ballots, which would disenfranchise millions of Hispanic voters. Creating English-only ballots would require altering the Voting Rights Act, which was last renewed in 2006 for a period of 25 years. [Mother Jones]

Powerful Super PACs are in some cases causing headaches for the candidates they support. Rather than just running attack ads, many Super PACs have begun directly reaching out to voters — sending mail, running phone banks and creating surrogate operations on the ground — in ways that unnerve campaign operatives. “It would be much better for the super PACs to just focus on running ads and not try to get into the ground game because that can get really confusing and reduplicative,” said Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s campaign manager. [Politico]

This week's Newsweek cover story argues that "the conservatives who hate Mitt Romney the most have it wrong." In reality, they'd find love a Romney presidency. While he's certainly not the hard-right candidate of conservative dreams, he "makes a plausible case that he governed as conservatively as is possible in Massachusetts," writes Peter J. Boyer. What Romney "has to sell," Boyer adds, is "the idea that he is a conservative by disposition, by sensibility. Before he had any discernible politics, he devoted himself to a faith that extols family values, and the line of work he chose, for all its failings, was a full-immersion experience in free enterprise." [Newsweek]

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