And Romney spent a boat load of money Newt didn’t have….
Proving that Negative campaigning isn’t pretty…
But It sure DOES work….
Mr. Romney was savaged by Mr. Gingrich over his record at Bain Capital, softening him up for the coming Democratic effort to portray him as a heartless capitalist happy to fire people to enrich himself. His release of his tax returns, complete with details about a Swiss bank account, provided new facts for opponents seeking to cast him as out of touch with ordinary Americans.
And the very trait that propelled him in Florida — a willingness to descend into the muck and run a relentlessly negative campaign — distracted from his economic-themed argument against Mr. Obama while deepening his rift with some populist conservatives. Should Mr. Gingrich remain a viable enough candidate to stay in the race through the summer, Mr. Romney could be forced to maintain an angry edge that could undermine his appeal among moderate and independent voters — groups whose views of him, polls suggest, appear to have been harmed by the Florida melee.
“There are questions about his wealth and Bain, but he has not become an intensely polarizing figure yet,” said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist who worked on Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign in 2008. “The question is, will he become that?”
Mr. Romney himself seemed sensitive to the perception that his campaign has become locked in a bitter — and counterproductive — war of words with his leading Republican rival.
“I would like to spend more of our time focusing on President Obama,” he said in Tampa on Tuesday as voting was under way. “That’s ultimately what’s going to be essential to taking back the White House.”
His challenge is about to become even more complicated. As much as he would like to be punching and counterpunching with Mr. Obama, he must still contend with Mr. Gingrich, who vowed Tuesday night to remain in what he described as a two-man nomination fight.
Mr. Romney faces a classic dilemma in presidential politics: Going negative is never an appealing option, but the alternative amounts to unilateral disarmament and a much higher likelihood of defeat, especially against a rival like Mr. Gingrich who has little to lose.
“In primary politics, short-term gains are what matters, because if you don’t have the short-term gains, you won’t be around long enough to deal with the long-term problems,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute…..