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Romney Wins Florida

Aired January 31, 2012 - 00:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Like a man who expects to win.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A competitive primary does not divide us. It prepares us. And we will win.


MORGAN: Romney clearly has the momentum tonight but this race is far from over. Next up are the Nevada caucuses on Saturday with 28 delegates at stake. After that just a handful of contests in February. Big night, Super Tuesday on March 6th when 11 states vote with more than 400 delegates at stake.

Hitting down the road to Super Tuesday and beyond, Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger and John King.

Congratulations, team. Another cracking night of political entertainment.

Where are we, Wolf? Sum it up for me tonight. It looks on the face of it like a thumping victory for Romney. His campaign back on tracks. He had a great week of debates. Seems to got his mojo, I guess, in a way that he maybe lost it the week before. What's your overview?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, SITUATION ROOM: It's a big night for Mitt Romney. There's no doubt about that. He seems -- he seems to be well positioned right now for February. Most of these contests whether in Nevada or Arizona or Michigan, he's got some major advantages even in Colorado, let's say. He's going to do well in February. But you correctly point out March 6th, assuming all four of these candidates remain in the contest, March 6th, Super Tuesday. It's called super for a reason. It's going to be very, very significant.

And the other three gave absolutely no indication whatsoever, Piers, that they're thinking about dropping out. You know, Newt Gingrich in fact in his remarks tonight, in his speech tonight, he didn't even congratulate Mitt Romney which is traditional. The other two candidates did. There was no phone call between the two of them.

He is pushing on. He is determined to do what he can to get this nomination. Even if it means, you know, going against some of the traditions in this kind of contest. MORGAN: Now, John King, you are the greatest television number cruncher in political history. So --

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, JOHN KING, USA: That's a setup for failure. Here we go.


MORGAN: Put it into context for me, John. Because just on the face of it, someone who's covering this campaign for the first time, I'm looking at the number of delegates that have actually been allocated so far and it seems pretty small beer, as we would say back home. So how significant is Romney's position right now?

KING: Well, look. After losing South Carolina and getting beat pretty badly in South Carolina to win tonight and to win convincingly is huge for Mitt Romney. Florida is the biggest state, it's the most diverse state. It's a critical November battleground so psychologically this is a huge boost for Romney.

He already has the most money in the bank. And guess what, this will help him raise even more. Now he has to prove it, though, Piers. He's now back on his feet. He's now the frontrunner again. But now he has to prove it. The Romney campaign where -- you mentioned the delegate count. You need 1,144 to clinch the nomination. He has about 84 at tonight. So anybody at home can do the math. He's a long way from the finish line.

Most races are settled by momentum. We don't have a delegate count. We lose count because a nominee wraps it up early. But with the Clinton/Obama 2008 example of going into June are fresh in our minds. The question is, if Romney can run the map in February -- win Nevada, win Colorado, win Minnesota, win up in Maine, then win Arizona and Michigan -- those would be the exclamation points at the end of the month.

Then does Gingrich's money dry up? Then does Santorum say I haven't been able to find a breakthrough, it's time for me to get out? So this question, they are in at least through the month of February. Speaker Gingrich says he's in through March and beyond. That could change if Romney has a very big month.

But I'll tell you this, they're happy tonight. They're a little nervous about these caucus states. They say, they look at Maine, they look at Nevada, they look at Minnesota, and they think maybe Ron Paul. They look at Missouri, the birth place of the anti-abortion movement in the United States of America. A bible belt in the southern part of the state. Could be a surprise there.

What they need to do now, Piers, they're back in the lead. They need to protect it. February is a huge month for Mitt Romney to prove yes, I'm your prohibitive frontrunner.

MORGAN: Gloria, if you're Newt Gingrich, you know, you're on a great roll leading up to Florida. At one stage he's ahead in the polls after the thumping win in South Carolina. You're feeling pretty deflated tonight I would imagine. I found his whole demeanor in the week a bit curious. Now he was the new frontrunner in many way. But he behaved like he wasn't.

What went wrong with Gingrich this week, do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting because I don't think Newt Gingrich could decide who he was or what he was. Was he still the insurgent or was he the frontrunner? And I think he had a difficult time with that particularly in the last CNN debate that Wolf moderated.

The interesting thing about Newt Gingrich is that he's so much more comfortable as the back bencher, throwing the bombs at the establishment, than he is as a leader and somebody who would be the frontrunner. And I think we saw that play out very much in the state of Florida. So the voters weren't quite clear who they were getting. And I think the question that was raised in their mind was, does he have the temperament to go the long haul and finally beat Barack Obama? Because as our exit polls showed, electability was the key issue here to those voters tonight.

MORGAN: And finally a much more important battle raging this weekend. I've got to ask you all for a one-word answer. Giants or Patriots? Wolf?

BLITZER: I'm a Buffalo Bills fan. So I got to stay neutral in this one.

MORGAN: Gloria?

BORGER: All right. I'm standing next to John King, OK? So I have to say the Patriots. All right?

MORGAN: And John, I know your allegiance.

KING: Excellent choice. Excellent.

BORGER: Right. OK.

MORGAN: I am going to unequivocally lay my hat with the New York Giants.

KING: Piers, my friend.

BORGER: All right.

KING: You know what? We can disagree without being disagreeable. The Patriots are going to win.


MORGAN: Thank you all very much. A fantastic job again tonight. Thanks, guys.

BORGER: Thanks. MORGAN: Joining me now is the GOP power couple, Representative Connie Mack of Florida and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of California. They both support Mitt Romney. And they join me now.

Welcome to you both.

REP. CONNIE MACK IV (R), FLORIDA: Hello. Go to see you.


MORGAN: So a pretty good night for Mitt Romney. In almost every sense really. Looks like his campaign is back on track and in some style.

M. MACK: You're right. It's a big style. I think this week was a great week for Romney. I think there's no doubt that he performed very well in the debates. And tonight was just a great night.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Connie Mack, it's clearly been a bit of a swings and roundabouts campaign so far with peaks and troughs and different people winning in different places. I suppose the thing that we saw with Mitt Romney this week is we saw the sort of lion within him beginning to roar. Is this a side to his character that you were familiar with? Are you surprised that he's now beginning to beat his chest a bit?

C. MACK: I'm not surprised at all. In fact, you know, I think what we saw in the first debate here in Florida was, you know, Mitt Romney saying that America is worth fighting for. And he is going to put everything out there on the line to do it. And his job -- his message about jobs and the economy and the private sector know how to do it. His professionalism, his character, his ethics. I mean, this is someone that we can believe in. And I think that was on display in the debates here in Florida but also as he traveled around the state.

MORGAN: Congresswoman, clearly this all got pretty nasty as these campaigns tend to. Ninety-nine percent of Mitt Romney's advertising in Florida was negative. He's going to try and metaphorically bury Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich is saying I'm going to carry on until the convention. But that doesn't suit Mitt Romney. He's going to throw the kitchen sink at him, isn't he?

M. MACK: Well, it sure looks like it. If tonight you just contrasted the two speeches that we saw. One was a very positive uplifting message about taking the country forward and the other one was pretty emotional about really not accepting what happened here tonight in Florida.

So there's no doubt. I think tomorrow the smoke might clear a little bit more for -- perhaps for Newt. But you know when you look at the state of Florida, it's a very diverse electorate. I think it's a good example of what the company will bring to bear with the future elections.

MORGAN: And Connie Mack, let's talk about your own role in this because you've actually turned up at Gingrich rallies and heckled him. So you're clearly one of Romney's attack dogs at the moment. Are you going to -- going to tone this down? Are you going to stop baring your teeth in more places?

C. MACK: Now, Piers. Come on. We have -- we've done this dance before. We did what -- I did what all other candidates or campaigns do. And that is called bracketing events. So I went to the events quietly, stood in the back and offered perspective to the press as Newt was speaking. This is nothing new in campaigns. So, you know, to try to paint my as an attack dog or something like that is just misguided.

What I did was is make sure that Mitt Romney's message was being heard. And what really the people in the state of Florida were saying is, we want a -- we want a candidate who knows how jobs are created, who knows how this economy works, who has been in the real world, who has had successes. That's who we're looking for. And the people in the state of Florida spoke loudly tonight that that is the message that they reacted to.

M. MACK: And Piers, if I can just jump in here a little bit. There was no heckling whatsoever. I think Connie explained it very well. It was bracketing. We made ourselves available to the press who were there in the back of the room much like they're still here tonight for the Mitt Romney event.

What really happened was that Newt ran later and later and later towards -- to his own events. The press was, I think, rather bored and started asking questions of not only Connie but a couple -- you know, myself and Jason Chaffetz as well. So --

MORGAN: The one thing I wish you would bracket is Mitt Romney's singing voice. We can't have much more of that. Have you had a word with him?

M. MACK: I thought it was fantastic. I wish -- you should have heard the crowd singing along. I think it was an amazing way to end this primary campaign in Florida. Mitt last night was confident, he was relaxed. The crowd sang along. It was a beautiful moment.

MORGAN: Yes, but putting my old --

M. MACK: I mean, yes. I mean it wasn't "American Idol."

MORGAN: Let's be honest. If I was still judging "America's Got Talent and Barack Obama did his Al Green impression and then Mitt Romney did what he did last night, one of them would get through to the next round and it wouldn't be your guy.

M. MACK: Well, our guy would have won the "America's Got Courage" competition, that's for sure, for singing acappella like that in front of that many people.

MORGAN: That is true.

M. MACK: At least 6,000 turned out. MORGAN: I'll tell you, I actually give him credit because knowing he clearly isn't the best of singers, to do what he did did show courage. I agree with that.

Tell me this. What is the biggest challenge for Mitt Romney going forward? If you believe Newt Gingrich that he's going to keep going, going, going, attacking, attacking, attacking. Ron Paul presumably won't pull out either. And Rick Santorum may just decide to hang in -- on in there. This could run for months and months and months. What is the big challenge for Mitt Romney, do you think?

C. MACK: I think for Mitt it's just to continue to put himself out there, continue to show that he's got a plan to get America moving forward. That he understands how jobs are created. That it's not government. But it is the individual -- the risk takers. You know the people who are sitting at home right now watching, who are willing to take those risks every day to create a business and create jobs. He knows how that works. America is looking for work. And he knows how to deliver that.

MORGAN: Well, Connie Mack and Mary Bono Mack, thank you both very much for your time. And I'm sorry, my bark is worse than my bite, I assure you.


M. MACK: Thank you very much.

C. MACK: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: Take care.

Tonight Newt Gingrich lost big in Florida but he's vowed to stay in the race. Fighting for the GOP nomination to the bitter end. After all 46 remaining states. Just a few minutes ago I spoke to the two huge Gingrich supporters. His biggest perhaps, his daughters Jackie Gingrich Cushman and Kathy Gingrich Lubbers.


MORGAN: Ladies, it was a bit more cheerful last time I talked to you. You came off a thumping victory. It was a huge party erupting all around you. It looks a little bit quieter there tonight.

KATHY GINGRICH LUBBERS, NEWT GINGRICH'S DAUGHTER: Well, Piers, it's a little quieter because our father has already left to go to Nevada. So there's a reason it's not quite as exciting. But you know, we're here, we have the American flag behind us. We're here to talk to you about what's important to the American people. And we appreciate your time tonight.

MORGAN: Now look. Let's cut to the quick, ladies. You took a hell of a shellacking, as some of my colleagues have been saying earlier. I would imagine that knowing the man as I do now, he wouldn't react very well to a big beating like this. How is his mood? JACKIE GINGRICH CUSHMAN, NEWT GINGRICH'S DAUGHTER: Oh, it's great. And I don't know if you were able to watch the speech that he gave tonight. But that is exactly how he feels. To be perfectly honest, we had a huge victory in South Carolina. We won by 12 points. Governor Romney has endorsed us. Herman Cain has endorsed us. Michael Reagan from the trail with us for the last few days.

He's got a lot of grassroots people that are really behind us. But we knew that Florida was a big media market with all the money that's been spent here. We knew that this wasn't our state or town and place. We also know, as the sign said tonight, that there are 46 more states to go. That we have lots of delegates to get. And Dad was really passionate in his speech tonight. He talked about the America that we could have together and the bright future that we can work towards together. I think the people were very excited to hear that talk.

MORGAN: Tell me this, though. Clearly you've had the kitchen sink thrown at your father by Mitt Romney. He's been spending millions and millions of dollars pounding your dad into submission. You know, 99 percent of Romney's ads in Florida were negative, 95 percent of your father's were negative. It's getting very nasty and very personal.

On a human level, how do you as his daughters feel about the bombardment that's coming his way?

LUBBERS: Well, it's never actually fun to experience that. I'm sure that you can imagine that's not a pleasant place to be. It's especially disappointing because it does keep other people who would be good in public service out of the opportunity because they just don't want to endure it. But it also means that we're not addressing the important issues about what -- you know, what we need from an American leader.

What we need is someone like our father who has governed, who has done the things that even President Barack Obama has not yet done. He's reached across the aisle. And while he was speaker he was able to cut taxes, cut spending, balance the budget four times, deal with, you know, entitlement reform. They actually helped create 11 million jobs and we were at 4.2 percent unemployment.

That's the message that you're going to be hearing more and more about as we go forward. Because that's what resonates with the American people.

MORGAN: Well, the other message we keep hearing is, of course, from your father about Mitt Romney. He keeps calling him effectively a liar. He keeps saying he's dishonest, dishonest, dishonest. He's lying.

Do you, ladies, think that Mitt Romney is a liar? And is it helpful if Mitt Romney ends up being the nominee, that the message that's being communicated so forcefully is that he's a liar? Does that help the Republican Party? CUSHMAN: I think part of the process of the primary is to go through this and to go through all the different things you'll see in the general election. And I'll just give an example. You talked earlier about his position and what he's done. But as governor, Governor Mitt Romney raised taxes and fees $700 million. Now that's not a conservative message, that's not a conservative action.

Dad has cut taxes. He's cut spending. He's worked on welfare reform and passed it. But part of what we're seeing, what we saw in Florida, to your point of negative ads, is Mitt Romney in Florida didn't ran in his record as governor. He ran on the record against dad. Now he did very well and he won Florida. And we obviously can cede that. He clearly won Florida.

But I think we'll see as we go forth into the next phase that really entering the next stage. And as I talked to dad tonight after the speech, I said terrific speech. You really -- it really resonated with people. I've had so me e-mails and Facebooks and other people saying that's an incredible speech. And he said -- Dad said, you know what? Welcome to the next phase of the campaign.

This is where we're focusing, this is where we're going. It's going to really resonate with the American people. People want to know what they're getting and what to look forward to. And they're to get that with Newt Gingrich.

MORGAN: Now you two are very polite young ladies. I know that, because I've spoken to you a few times now. And you're always very polite to me. Your father wasn't very polite tonight. He didn't congratulate Mitt Romney. He hasn't phoned him as far as we're aware. Didn't even mention him in his speech. I mean little bit graceless, wouldn't you think?

LUBBERS: I'm not really sure I'd say that as graceless. I think what that is is the reality that he's moved on and we're looking toward the next 46 states. And I think that that sends an important message because everybody wants to know so what Newt doing next, I think he laid out what he's doing next. And that's what he wanted to make sure that everyone heard including the people on media land.

MORGAN: And finally, very quickly, ladies, have you booked your tickets to the Moon Colony yet?


CUSHMAN: Not yet. But it's my two children Maggie and Robert are really looking forward to it.


MORGAN: Well, I wouldn't mind coming myself. So count me in.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman and Kathy Gingrich Lubbers, thank you again very much.

CUSHMAN: Great. MORGAN: Much appreciated.

CUSHMAN: Thank you.

LUBBERS: Pleasure.


MORGAN: When we come back, a man who knows what it takes to win in Florida. The state's governor, Rick Scott.



NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Barack Obama gets re-elected, it will be a disaster for the United States of America. Make no bones about it. If he can have a record this bad, unemployment this bad, deficits this bad, policies this bad, gasoline prices this high, and still get re-elected? You can't imagine how radical he'll be in his second term.


MORGAN: Newt Gingrich blasting President Obama a little while ago. Now a man who knows how tough it can be to win in Florida, Governor Rick Scott. He's yet to endorse a Republican presidential candidate. But with Mitt Romney's giant victory tonight, all that changed. A moment ago I spoke with him.


MORGAN: Governor, why do you think Mitt Romney has such a thumping victory tonight?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: It was a big night for Florida. I think our voters voted based on, you know, what they thought was going to happen in the economy. This is the biggest issue we have. As you know our unemployment has dropped 2.1 percent. The second fastest in the country. But we still have 900,000 people out of work.

And so we're reducing taxes, reducing regulation. And Floridians want somebody that's going to be in Washington that's going to do the same thing and be a great federal partner. Reduce taxes, reduce regulation. We want more jobs in America and we clearly want more jobs in Florida.

MORGAN: But why do you think that they believe that Mitt Romney is the guy that's going to provide that for them? Not Newt Gingrich. Because Newt Gingrich until 10 days ago was actually ahead in Florida. Suddenly this huge turnaround and it seems to be based around Mitt Romney's better performances in the debates and this relentless negativity of the campaign, which I'll come to in a moment, but why Mitt Romney -- why is he being seen as the savior economically, do you think? SCOTT: I think -- I think what Floridians looked at is they look at he's a business guy. I got elected a year, a little over a year ago. I've been in business all my life. Here's a business guy up there that believes he can do what we're doing in Florida. Turn our economy around by reducing taxes, reducing regulation, reducing litigation risk. And that's what they want.

And you know, Governor Romney, he appears to have the message that Floridians believed in. That -- because it's all about jobs. And I think his background and I think, you're right, his debate performance. He did a good job in the debates.

MORGAN: Now Mitt Romney's campaign ran 3,276 ads in Florida. Ninety-nine percent were negative. Is that really healthy for the American political discourse that is so unrelentingly negative? Wouldn't it be better for the party to have at least some positivity creeping in here?

SCOTT: You know I think when people go to the polls, here's what they say. What's good for my family? You know each family in Florida, they say, I want -- you know, they want their kids to get a great education. They want to make sure they have the opportunity for a job. And they want to keep the cost of living low.

I think they look at this and say we can't continue having a country that has the second highest corporate tax rates in the world. More regulation at the federal level than the rest of the world. So they're looking at this race and saying we need a candidate that's going to help turn our economy around. And do what we're doing in Florida.

We generate 141,000 private sector jobs. Floridians believe in the private sector. They know that jobs are created by companies. And so they want somebody in Washington and they -- I think tonight they said that they believe Newt Gingrich -- Mitt Romney is the person who's going to do that.

MORGAN: I mean, if the economy continues to improve in the way that it seems to be at the moment, wouldn't that play into Barack Obama's hands? I mean, if Floridians believe that the president is actually turning around the situation, that's good for him, isn't it?

SCOTT: Absolutely. I think -- I think it's going to come down to who's got the right message this fall to turn the economy around. The -- it's going to be about -- it's going to be just like today. It's going to be about jobs. It's going to be believing in the private sector. It's going to be who do -- who do Americans say they're going to actually reduce taxes, reduce regulation, streamline the permitting process.

They -- Americans are smart. They know you can't keep going down this path of trillion-dollar deficits. So this fall it's going to be about jobs just like it was tonight.

MORGAN: And finally, you haven't declared an endorsement yet for any candidate. Following Mitt Romney's big win tonight, now it's all over in Florida for now. Are you prepared to back Mr. Romney?

SCOTT: I'm going to -- I'm going to support the Republican nominee. And I believe the Republican nominee will win in November because it'll be about jobs. And Americans will know that the party that believes in the free market, that supports the free market, that defends the free market is going to be the party that's going to turn this economy around.

MORGAN: OK. Governor, thank you very much indeed.


MORGAN: Coming up, why one candidate compared the race to mud wrestling. You've got to get down and dirty to make it in politics these days?



RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American public does not want to see two or three candidates get into a mud -- you know, a wrestling match where everybody walks away dirty and not in a position to be able to represent our party proudly. What we saw in the last few weeks in the state of Florida is not something that's going to help win this election.


MORGAN: Rick Santorum tonight. But is he right? Are Americans tired of politicians' mud wrestling?

Joining me now is the celebrity blogger extraordinaire, Andrew Breitbart, Amy Holmes, anchor of Glenn Beck's TV "The Blaze," and hosted "Real News." Catherine Crier, her fifth book is "Patriot Acts: What America Must Do to Save the Republic." And Carol Roth, business strategist and "New York Times" best selling author of "The Entrepreneur Equation."

Well, it's got to be the longest introduction ever. So this must be a very, very well qualified panel.

Let me start with you, Amy. This is a big win for Mitt Romney. Whichever way you look at this or try and spin it, he was suffering. He was down in South Carolina. He's roared back. Couple of great debates. Big thumping victory. He really needs a bit of more this, I think, and momentum will take him to nomination, isn't it?

AMY HOLMES, NEWS ANCHOR, GLENN BECK'S "THE BLAZE": Well, I mean, you know, a lot of wags are saying -- Senator Rubio said that if he wins Florida he wins the nomination. But of course Newt Gingrich tonight he said 46 states, and that he's going to keep battling on. I think the big question for a lot of the GOP and Republican establishment so to speak is, can Newt still do damage to Mitt Romney even if Mitt Romney gets the nomination? MORGAN: Look, Catherine, let me ask you. I mean my gut feeling about this is rather like when Barack Obama took on Hillary Clinton. The longer it went on, the better Obama became at the battle that was then going to come against, you know, his Republican opponent. Isn't it the same in reverse here? Isn't it -- you know, aren't we in the position here where the longer this goes on, it's better for Mitt Romney if he's the one that wins to have this bruising encounter with Gingrich on months on end?

CATHERINE CRIER, AUTHOR, "PATRIOT ACTS": Well, I think there could be a fine line. Maybe it's not so fine because the damage that's being done is not really on issues. It is so personal that I think it might leave a lot of people sitting at home on Election Day which is something the Republican Party doesn't want to do.

But in fact I think it certainly demonstrated just in the last -- in the last two, South Carolina and Florida, a different man debated Newt Gingrich. And so I do think it has made him a better candidate.

MORGAN: Let me bring in Andrew Breitbart.

I mean, Andrew, what it seems to be is a resounding rejection of the Tea Party in the sense that they have no one really left in this race. What do you make of that? The phenomenal Tea Party bursting on to scene and then disappearing almost as fast?

ANDREW BREITBART, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: Well, it hasn't disappeared whatsoever. I mean whenever the Tea Party is attacked nationally it has a hard time defending itself because it's a series of small organic grassroots groups at a local level. So they don't have a national organization. They don't have a national structure. And so they're really good at picking people in local primaries who they want to run. And fighting from that grassroots level.

But this is the first time they've ever tried to act on behalf of a national candidate. And it goes state by state by state. And with Sarah Palin out, there wasn't a true Tea Party candidate in there that they -- that they would have embraced at a massive level.

MORGAN: Carol, let me bring you in here. I mean you are a pro- Romney business strategist. We established that last time we spoke. And from a business point of view, he's getting more and more ruthless, isn't he? He's spending more and more money getting nastier and nastier. He wants to not just beat Newt Gingrich, he wants to destroy the guy.

CAROL ROTH, BUSINESS STRATEGIST: Well, we talked about this last time, Piers. He need to bring it and he absolutely did. He brought it in the debate. He brought it in terms of the dollars spent and the type of ads that he did. But I think that it's time that he needs to evolve. Because I think people were waiting for him to bring it. But now they need to build a connection with him. He's sort of an outsider. He's this privileged, you know, Wall Street kind of guy. And I don't think they feel connected to him. So before he needed to have a debate coach. Now I think he needs to have a story-telling coach and connect emotionally with the audience. MORGAN: Yes. I would agree with that. And the one who's done that best actually -- the two people who have done it best, I think, probably Rick Santorum who made this brilliant speech when, as it turned out, he won in Iowa. And also Ron Paul makes these regular speeches. And no one takes much interest in Ron Paul. But Ron Paul, the way it plays out in someone like Nevada, just the way the system is, he could do surprisingly well over the next two or three caucuses and primaries.

Are they out of the equation? Is Santorum gone, done and dusted? You know what do you think of the other two candidates?

HOLMES: Well, some watchers, you know, they're speculating that perhaps Rick Santorum is staying in in the hopes of being VP on a Romney ticket. So if he does well in some of these upcoming states, and he can show strength on the ticket, and bring in conservatives home for Mitt Romney.

But I will say tonight that listening to Newt Gingrich's speech, it was gracious, it was also charging forward. Here's what I would do on my first day as president of the United States. And I think that Newt Gingrich, he's an emotional guy and he does make emotional connections with voters. Sometimes were good, sometimes --


MORGAN: And also, Catherine, I mean, Newt Gingrich, he was dead on arrival this summer. Whole campaign team quit. He went off on holiday. That seemed to be it. Then he came steaming back. Then he went down again. Then he came and won in South Carolina. Now he's gone back again. I wouldn't rule out Newt Gingrich making yet another comeback, would you?

CRIER: But Newt -- I've been covering Newt Gingrich since the late '80s. The man is his own worst enemy. In so many respects. If you let him talk long enough, and he will talk himself out of whatever he's succeeded in. But the thing I'm interested in is listening to his speech tonight, is there any chance, any chance this man could take his people's campaign?

Remember he said this is not a Republican -- the people's campaign, to a third party? He does have the ego for good or bad. He does think in grandiose terms. He's admitted that himself. I wonder if there's any chance --

HOLMES: But I don't know that he has the organization. Ron Paul would have the organization for that.


MORGAN: Well, Romney also.

HOLMES: I don't think that that would matter.

MORGAN: There's also a bigger question which I'm going to put to Andrew Breitbart when we come back after this short break, which is, Andrew, realistically, does anybody on the Republican side right now, with the economy improving, have a chance of beating Barack Obama?

I think I know what your answer is going be. But let's get the suspense building up.



REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is many brush fires of freedom being lit across this country today. We don't even know where they are, there are so many. But it is being translated into great enthusiasm and change. The change that we need.


MORGAN: You know who was enthusiastic? Ron Paul speaking a little while ago. Back with me now, Andrew Breitbart, Amy Holmes, Catherine Crier and Carol Roth.

Let me ask you, Andrew, as I said before the break, can these guys, whichever one wins the nomination, actually beat Barack Obama if the economy -- and this is the big question. If the economy continues to improve right up to November, he's going to hit a homerun, isn't he?

BREITBART: Well, that's a big if. And I would also say that less crappy than crappy is still crappy. The economy is not robust. And I think that the American people who voted for Barack Obama on a concept of hope and change which was about uplift have experienced occupy. They've experienced Wisconsin. They've experienced that community organizing isn't helping the little old lady across the street.

It's a form of Alinsky war tactics against your own enemy. And people have Obama fatigue because hope and change is about accusing anyone that disagrees with President Obama of being a racist. That's exactly the opposite of the racial reconciliation that was a tacit promise of this presidency.

MORGAN: Yes, well, look, let's get something (INAUDIBLE) perspective. Take the "Occupy" movement, for example, Andrea, because, you know, you say it's raging around America stuff. The reality is it isn't. I mean most people in America are not protesting. Three hundred and 40 million of them actually may feel --

BREITBART: But it was created --


MORGAN: May feel agreed. But I don't get a sense and I don't have the horse in this race. I don't get a sense that people in America hate Barack Obama enough yet to want to really kick him out.

BREITBART: OK. Well, the thing is the mainstream media is not going to report to you the origins of the "Occupy" movement. It was the biggest story of last year according to "TIME" magazine. But if you look at the origins, it's the exact same people that organized against Bush and Katrina. Same exact people that organized the anti- war movement.

It was even the same exact people that protested the Republican National Convention in 2008 where two members of these radical anarchist and socialist groups were arrested for planning to use Molotov cocktails against the police.


MORGAN: Andrew, I think we're getting slightly tangential here.

BREITBART: These people are all tied to Obama.

MORGAN: Only you could have brought Molotov cocktails into this.

Let's me -- let me bring in -- let me bring in, Carol Roth. Let's cut to -- let's cut to what my gut sense at the moment which is actually most Republicans even if they're conservatives, they don't really warm to Mitt Romney. Probably looking at the whole race now and thinking a Romney/Chris Christie ticket might be the best way to beat Barack Obama.

Has Mitt Romney done enough? It's interesting to me that in Florida with all the problems they've got there. The worst housing crisis in the whole of America. They decided that of Gingrich and of Romney they preferred Romney's view of the economy, and how to revive it than Newt Gingrich's. So that's an encouraging sign.

It said to me that they don't look upon Romney as this very, very super rich, out-of- touch guy anymore. Would you -- would you agree with that?

ROTH: I think it all boils down to electability, Piers. And I relate everything back to high school in America. And you have to remember that when it comes down to it, people want to elect somebody who's cool. Not necessarily the smartest kid. So you've got Barack Obama who's basically the prom king. You've got Newt Gingrich who's head of the debate club. So at least Romney is going to the prom.

And so, you know, he has a chance against the prom king. I think everybody realizes that if you put Newt Gingrich against Barack Obama even if your head says this makes sense, your gut is going to go, yes, you know what, I just can't do this.

MORGAN: But, Amy, an interesting thing, isn't it, is that a lot of conservatives that I've spoken to, they do not really warm to Mitt Romney. So they are going along with this reluctantly at the moment. This is why Newt Gingrich, I think, still says, I'm staying in this to the bitter end. Because I think he thinks he can presents himself as a genuine conservative alternative to the moderate which Mitt Romney clearly is.

HOLMES: Well, I think Newt Gingrich definitely does believe that about his candidacy and listening to his speech tonight, you know, he said he was the conservative in the race and that Mitt Romney was the Massachusetts moderate. But you asked the question, could Mitt Romney beat President Obama? Certainly he could.

The country doesn't have to hate President Obama to simply tire of him, tire of his policies and want a new direction. So you're going to want to look at those, you know, is the country going in the right direction, wrong direction polls, and maybe somebody else, you know, maybe we should be putting our country in the hands of someone else. I mean it doesn't have to be such extreme, you know, polarization.

CRIER: Amy, careful. Let's pull the curtain back. The conservative establishment is a business group. Very different from the cultural social group. Right now Gingrich is appealing to the cultural conservatives. When he went after Mitt Romney about capitalism and about how he made his money and you saw -- I mean, you saw the establishment talking heads, the politicians on Capitol Hill going after him. You have got a business community who is supporting Romney for business reasons.

HOLMES: I'm not sure about that.

MORGAN: I mean to say, the one thing --

CRIER: I will fight that --


MORGAN: And the one thing I know about business people is --

CRIER: Gingrich is the -- is the social conservative.

MORGAN: In the end they will go where they think success lies.

CRIER: Absolutely.

MORGAN: An interesting thing to me will be -- as always.

CRIER: Gingrich scares them. Gingrich scares these guys.

MORGAN: Well, I would say, follow the money. Interestingly, Rick Santorum is still raising a lot of money. Newt Gingrich raising a lot of money. So this may not be over yet. And actually what happens in little places like Nevada or Michigan and so on could be very significant in terms of their ability to carry on raising money. And I think that may be where we get the indication about who stays in and who comes out.

Thank you all for now. I'd love to get you all back.

HOLMES: Likewise.

MORGAN: At this twilight hour. It certainly glams the place up a bit as you come in here. So thank you very much. Well, apart from you, Andrew, obviously. Joke.

When we come back, a confident, aggressive Mitt Romney won Florida. Did we witness the birth of a new Mitt? I'll ask the "New York Times'" Frank Bruni.



ROMNEY: President Obama demonizes and denigrates almost ever sector of our economy. I will make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for innovators, for job creators. And unlike the other people running for president, I know how to do that because I've done it before.


MORGAN: Mitt Romney going on the attack against President Obama tonight. And joining me now a man who'd never afraid to speak his mind, "New York Times" op-ed columnist Frank Bruni.

So, Frank, where are we with all this? Because it's been a bit of a rollercoaster, hasn't it so far? Has Mitt Romney now made that sort of tipping point move, do you think, to where he's a genuine frontrunner?

FRANK BRUNI, "NEW YORK TIMES" OP-ED COLUMNIST: Absolutely. I mean we've been talking about him as the frontrunner for a long time. And there -- actually hasn't been enough evidence at the polls to support it. Now he definitely has it. I mean this is a resounding huge victory tonight.

MORGAN: He looks and sounds this week in his entirety with debates and now this win and the speech tonight. He just looks more presidential, doesn't he? He looks like he's found his mojo.

BRUNI: Well, he looks much more motivated. I mean there's that moment in every presidential campaign, for every primary process where you look for a candidate to find the proverbial fire in the belly. He found it this time but he also found it at some cost. And he went very, very negative. And when you look at polls, his favorability ratings with Americans going into the general are going to be much worse as a result of this primary process.

MORGAN: How damaging is it for Republicans that they're laying into each other with such relentless negativity? Because I think in Florida, for example, 11,000 ads and 97 percent were negative.


MORGAN: Now that's fine when they're scrapping with each other. But if you're Barack Obama, you sit back and you go, this is all quite useful.


MORGAN: I can play all this stuff against them.

BRUNI: Well, it's useful because someone like Mitt -- let's say he gets the nomination. He has -- a lot of people are going to have negative feelings about him. They might see him as mean, they might see him as, you know, bitter. That sort of thing. That said, this happens in every primary process. A lot of voters still aren't paying close attention. A lot of people aren't going to really tune in until the last couple of months. So he can invent himself anew at that point if he's a good candidate.

MORGAN: Who, if you're -- if you're Obama, who do you least want to take on?

BRUNI: Probably Romney. I mean --

MORGAN: You said probably. I mean, I've been wrestling with this myself. I'm not sure whether you're terrified of Romney or not. Whether you think, you know what, we could probably deal with someone like him. He's not the most charismatic person he might go up against.

BRUNI: I don't think they're terrified of him. But of the people they might go up against, he's probably the fiercest opponent for a whole lot of reasons. Including if you look at the exit polls in Florida tonight. He was seen as the most moderate candidate. That's going to help him in the general. That makes him a tougher opponent for Obama than Gingrich who's seen as very conservative.

I don't think Obama or his people are terrified of Romney. In fact, the president has gotten very lucky with his field of Republicans because in different ways all of them would be very, very flawed general election candidates.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich is saying, I'm not giving up, I'm going to go the whole way, 46 more states, and so on.

BRUNI: We'll see.

MORGAN: And obviously -- yes, exactly, I mean, common sense says if he gets hammered in the next five or six, that may be it. But he's got a slight point that this sort of box standard conservative in the Republican Party does not warm to Mitt Romney. And we discussed this with a panel earlier. And so they may be tempted, if somebody like Gingrich can really get his act together, they might be tempted to gravitate to him. If they feel that Romney can't beat Obama.

BRUNI: It's not outside the realm of possibility. And if there's anything this process has taught is not to make assumptions. I mean we have seen frontrunner after frontrunner. This has been a crazy, crazy primary process. And I think any candidate going through it is going to say, you know what, I'm going to ride it out as long as I can because who knows the next twist is.

MORGAN: Santorum and Paul, where are they in this?

BRUNI: Well, I mean, Paul wasn't really competing in Florida. Paul is not going to get the nomination. I mean that candidacy has got a hole.

MORGAN: But he has got a remarkably loyal, young -- BRUNI: Yes.

MORGAN: Crucially following of people who are very aware on social media and stuff. He always leads the Twitter, the Facebook stuff.

BRUNI: And that's --

MORGAN: Which is extraordinary given his age.

BRUNI: No, and that's lovely for him and it's a compliment to him in certain ways but he's not going to get the nomination.

MORGAN: Does it make him -- no, but does it make him a valuable tool to whoever wants to be the nominee?

BRUNI: Well, if he has -- if he has a lot of delegates in the end and if he has a lot of public support, I mean, the nominee is going to want every single former opponent, you know, to line up behind him. And so sure. Paul would be one of those people. But I don't think Paul is really a factor when we're talking about who's going to get the nomination.

MORGAN: Santorum?

BRUNI: Santorum I think tries to stay in it for awhile because there's clearly this bloc of voters who don't want Romney, who are more conservative. And I think if you're Santorum you're saying to yourself, well, you know, something could happen with Newt Gingrich. And if he's -- if something happened and he became a nonfactor in a couple of weeks, maybe I become that conservative alternative and then suddenly I actually have some traction.

MORGAN: Let's have another break. I want to talk about the really key issue which is who is the better singer? Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

BRUNI: Suddenly I feel like I'm Christina Aguilera on the "Voice" or something.

MORGAN: You might be. Hold your verdict. We have a break. I want you to really think about this.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (Singing) I am so in love with you.

ROMNEY: (Singing) America, America, God sent his grace on thee.


MORGAN: There you have it. Proof that "America's Got Talent." Well, at least parts of America have got talent. I'm back with "New York Times'" Frank Bruni. I mean it's a little unfair because Barack Obama clearly has got a better natural singing voice.

BRUNI: Yes. If we're deciding this election on pitch, I think Obama's got it on a landslide.

MORGAN: What does it say about --

BRUNI: No offense to Mitt Romney.

MORGAN: What does it say about the men's character? Because actually if you're the president of the United States and you've got Al Green sitting in an audience and you decided against the judgment of your aides, I'm going to start singing Al Green. That takes guts. And I think it took Mitt Romney even more guts to sing a whole song, an American anthem, and in front of an audience, knowing with YouTube and everything else, everyone is going to see this.

BRUNI: Listen, you have to have guts if you're going to be president. I mean the amount of time you spend at microphones, in front of the public, I mean you've got to have a lot of guts. So this doesn't really surprise me. We learned about their voices but I don't think we learned anything new about their gumption.

MORGAN: Why would anybody in the modern age really want to be the president given the unbearable workload, stress, the attention?

BRUNI: I mean, yes, we're talking about -- I can't imagine, it is, you know, we should say this from time to time because we all spend so much time tearing apart the candidates and, you know, in being justly critical of them. It is really, really difficult and wearing to run for president. And it guarantees that we do not have people in the Oval Office who didn't really want the job.

MORGAN: Like --

BRUNI: Because you've got to want it.

MORGAN: And I've got great respect for all the candidates. I've interviewed all of them now, and the workload, the incredible attention, the goldfish bowl they live in. Exposures of their families.

BRUNI: The amount of second-guessing.

MORGAN: Everything. I mean it's enormous. And I think that people often forget that.


MORGAN: And are very quick to judge them negatively. But actually you've got -- as you say, you've got to really want this, haven't you?

BRUNI: Yes, yes. I mean, to go out on the trail and to watch them, I mean, this is a very tedious exercise. It's a very, very difficult and humiliating exercise. I mean those of us sitting at tables like this and those of us writing about them, I mean we're really brutal of them. So you have --

MORGAN: I mean I like the American system. We have nothing like this in Britain. It's much, much faster, much less forensic. What I feel about it is you really get to know these people.


MORGAN: And you can make a proper judgment.


MORGAN: Come election day, there's nothing there that I know about, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or any other, whoever that nominee is.

BRUNI: We've learned enormous amounts about these men in the -- in the last couple of months. I mean when you kind of put away all of the pageantry and all of the noise, and just kind of look at what's happened, we've learned an enormous amount about these men. And we can make a more informed decision now than we could several months ago.

MORGAN: We certainly can.

Frank, as always, thank you very much.

BRUNI: Thanks to you.

MORGAN: Good to see you.

MORGAN: Tomorrow night we're talking economy and your money. And no one knows that better than Suze Orman. She's here in a live audience tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern. That's it for us. Good night, everyone.