Newt tops FL poll, Romney ready for NBC GOP debate

Paula Duffy's picture

Another GOP debate is set for tonight, broadcast on NBC. It is the first debate since Newt Gingrich took control of the So. Carolina primary in a stunning defeat for Mitt Romney.

In the first poll results related to the upcoming Florida GOP primary, Newt Gingrich holds an eight point lead over Mitt Romney, according to Talking Points Memo. The poll was conducted over the weekend by Insider Advantage after Gingrich's win in South Carolina, which gave him the proverbial poll "bump" after a win.

Tonight's debate is highly anticipated because Mitt Romney will be fighting from behind and is certain to want to curry favor by following up on his promise to reveal his tax return. Romney turned around on the issue after he was hammered about it by Gingrich and it caught on as an issue with voters.

Mitt Romney is also expected to be on the attack more so than in other debates. He not only lost the So. Carolina primary but after a final tally of caucus voters in Iowa, he was declared the second place finisher behind Rick Santorum.

While the GOP establishment has already saturated the airwaves with support for Mitt Romney and derision for Newt Gingrich, the former Massachusetts governor has to provide his base with the feeling that the tide has not turned against him.

As the columnist Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast put it, "NBC viewers on Monday will be looking at a candidate stripped of his aura of inevitability—a premise of electability that, it turns out, is central to his case for the nomination."

The Newt attacks began ahead of last Saturday's primary. The GOP aired ads in support of Romney, calling Gingrich's stability into question. A former colleague of Gingrich, former N.Y. Congresswoman Susan Molinari was featured in one in which she recalls Gingrich's actions while he acted as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

"Leadership by chaos," is how the former Congresswoman characterized Gingrich's style, which she says contributed to the reelection of President Bill Clinton in 1996 and Newt's ouster as head of the party in the House. Watch the video, here.

On Sunday during stump speeches in the state of Floria, Mitt Romney gave voters more than a hint of the way he will campaign against Newt and it includes the theme of the GOP ads.

"We’re not choosing a talk show host, we’re choosing a leader," Romney said, echoing the stance of Gov. Rick Perry after his star fell because of his debate performances. Gingrich failed as a leader he told a crowd ----just ask people who worked with him.

NBC reportedly is set to preempt primetime programming at 9:00 p.m. to air the debate, making it the first in the GOP presidential race to be on a broadcast network. It will be hosted by the University of So. Florida in Tampa and moderated by NBC's Brian Williams.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

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