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Florida Republican Primary; Rick Santorum, Ron Paul Address Supporters

Aired January 31, 2012 - 21:00   ET


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I went to Florida and, of course, participated in the debates. I thought we did a pretty good job in those debates.


SANTORUM: And while we didn't get into the melee of the negativism. As I said at that debate in Jacksonville on Thursday night. The American public does not want to see two or three candidates get into a mud -- you know, a mud wrestling match where everybody walks away dirty and not in a position to be able to represent our party proudly.

We're going to have differences on the issues. And we need to talk about those differences on the issues. But what we saw in the last few weeks in the state of Florida is not something that's going to help us win this election.


SANTORUM: We need to -- and I said it, I'll say it again.

Governor Romney, you have every right to go out in the private sector and use the gifts that God has given you and the opportunities that you have and you made for yourself and your hard work and make all the money that you can and do it in a way that helps our economy and certainly helps you and your family.

And I'm not going to criticize you for doing that because that's how capitalism works, and I'm all for it.


SANTORUM: And Speaker Gingrich, you went out and you took the talents that you have, and they're considerable, and you took the effort and the hard work and the knowledge and experience you got from working at the highest levels of government, and went out and worked with companies who had concerns about a government that was trying to run over them in many cases.

And there's nothing wrong with that. And I congratulate you for the work that you did in support of those companies that deserve representation as they are entitled to under the First Amendment of our Constitution. And I'm not going to criticize you for that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SANTORUM: All right?


SANTORUM: But let's put those issues behind us and let's focus on the real issue, which is defeating Barack Obama.


SANTORUM: And we're not -- we're not going to do that by mudslinging. We're going to do it by talking about the issues that people at their kitchen tables are talking about. They're talking about their homes that are being foreclosed on. They're talking about jobs that are not available or the promotions that are not available or the opportunities to be able to start a business without the government breathing down their neck.

That's what people want to hear about and they want to know what your plans are and they want to know how you contrast yourself with President Obama when it comes to that.


SANTORUM: Well, that's what this campaign has been about for me and that's what it is going to be about here. Tomorrow, we're going to give a speech on Romney-care and Obama-care.




SANTORUM: We're going to talk about the issues that are important to the people of Nevada, the -- important to the people of Colorado and Minnesota, and Missouri. The states that are up next in this next go-around in the next week. That's what the issues that -- again, we need a candidate who can get up on the issues of health care and draw a clear contrast with President Obama. We need someone who can get up on the issue of cap and trade and government using environmentalism to be able to crush the businesses of our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's right.

SANTORUM: And draw a clear contrast with President Obama. We need someone on the issue of Wall Street and the bailouts and all of the --



(CHEERS) SANTORUM: Here in Nevada, they've suffered. They've suffered while the folks -- while the folks in Wall Street have prospered, the people here who had the -- had the loans that are under water continued to suffer while those who are buying and selling for profit bad paper continued to get bailed out by Washington, D.C. and approved of by Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.


SANTORUM: All right? So we need someone who can draw that contrast. We need someone who can be a conservative nominee.

And you know what, in Florida, Newt Gingrich had his opportunity. He came out of the state of South Carolina, he came out with a big -- with a big win and a lot of money. And he said, I'm going to be the conservative alternative. I'm going to be the anti-Mitt. And it didn't work. He became the issue. We can't allow our nominee to be the issue in the campaign.


SANTORUM: So I say -- I say to the people of Nevada, in fact, to the people across this country, if you want a strong principled conservative who is not going to be the issue in the campaign, who's going to make Barack Obama the issue in this campaign, please vote for me and help us out.


SANTORUM: Thank you, God bless, thank you. Thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so Rick Santorum, he pledges to continue this race even though coming in a distant third in the state of Florida. He's already in Nevada, the Nevada caucuses coming up on Saturday.

Momentarily we will see and hear Newt Gingrich. He came in a distant second in Florida despite the fact that he made a huge, huge effort in Florida, spent a lot of money there, but clearly right now with, what, 76 percent of the vote in, Mitt Romney has 47 percent to 32 percent for Newt Gingrich, 13 percent for Rick Santorum, 7 percent for Ron Paul.

We're going to be hearing from Newt Gingrich momentarily. You will hear the speech as well. I'm anxious to hear clues. I assume he's going to continue to struggle for the Republican presidential nomination. You see the signs over at Gingrich headquarters right now saying that 46 states still left to go, suggesting that there have been four contests so far, 46 left to go.

So all of the indications, John, are that Newt Gingrich will continue. I was -- I got to tell you, when I did hear Jim Acosta report earlier he's not doing any morning television shows tomorrow morning, I said to myself, hmm, that doesn't sound like the Newt Gingrich we know, coming after a loss like this, you'd think he'd want to restart his campaign by going on those major morning television shows in the morning. So that raised a little bit of an alarm bell. But I see those signs there saying "46 States to Go," I assume he authorized that.

So any notion, as Rick Santorum suggesting, that maybe he should draw some conclusions, he didn't do well in Florida, and drop out, that doesn't sound like it's necessarily going to happen.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Doesn't sound like it's necessarily going to happen but anybody who watched Newt Gingrich in the last few days in Florida sees that he's tried as a candidate. You could see it, you could feel it. His own personal energy was down, so maybe he's sleeping in to get some more energy. He's on his way to Nevada tonight where you saw Senator Rick Santorum.

Let's look, as we wait for Speaker Gingrich come out. Wolf, let's look at some of the exit polling. First I want to look at some positive signs for Mitt Romney. He's obviously winning and winning big among very conservative voters. Here's a weakness, though. Very conservative voters, Speaker Gingrich gets 43 percent, Governor Romney, 29. So this is a bit of a warning to Governor Romney.

This also happened in South Carolina. Florida, a more diverse electorate. You had more moderate and somewhat conservative voters. But this is something even as he gives a big speech tonight, even as he talks about unifying the Republican Party, this is one of his issues that's why he was talking tonight about cutting spending, about repealing the Obama health care plan. He understands this remains a weakness here.

If you look, though, here's one of his strengths. Florida voters think by far that Mitt Romney is the best candidate, Florida Republicans who live in a big battleground state think he is by far the best candidate to beat President Obama.

OK, Gingrich just introduced, I think I'm told. You see him walking onto the stage right there so we'll stop and we can dig deeper in the exit polls in a few minutes.

BLITZER: Yes, he's -- they're just beginning -- John, they're just beginning the process. It's going to take a few -- a few minutes, I assume, for him to shake hands with some of his loyal supporters there.

He's over in Orlando, Florida. You see Callista, his wife, she always is with him by his side, she's always there. So after he receives some of the support -- you see former Congressman Bill McCollum there as well, who had endorsed Newt Gingrich. So let's hear what he has to say. I'm anxious to get some clues about where he goes from here. So here he is.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all very, very much. And thank all of you up here. I particularly want to start by thanking Attorney General Bill McCollum, who just has been a great state-wide leader and has done so much to help us and he and Ingrid have just been tremendous.

I also want to thank Mayor Krotty and Adam Levine who co-chaired statewide and really helped us put this together in a remarkably short time. And so we're very grateful to all of you.

I also want to introduce my daughter Kathy and her husband, Paul, they live down in Key Biscayne.


GINGRICH: And I'm very proud of Kathy because she did a whole series of Spanish language media over the last couple of weeks helping us in the Miami area, and really reaching out across all the Spanish community and also my daughter Jackie and her husband Jimmy who are here.


GINGRICH: And Jackie has been -- Jackie has been doing speeches, doing television and radio. And as many of you know, she is the -- she and Jimmy are the mother and father of my two major debate coaches, Maggie and Robert. So it's great to have them here.

I want to thank Floridians. Callista and I talked about this. And everybody here has been so positive in every part of the state, that we just thank all of you for the hospitality and the kindness. We thank the well over a half million Floridians who voted for us.

And I think Florida did something very important, coming on top of South Carolina. It is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader, Newt Gingrich, and the Massachusetts moderate.


GINGRICH: And the voters of Florida really made that clear. Now you'll notice a number of folks are holding up a sign about 46 states to go.


GINGRICH: We did this in part for the elite media, because, you know, the same people who said I was dead in June and July, and said I was gone after Iowa, who seemed totally quiet the night of the South Carolina victory, are now going to be back saying, what's he going to do? What's he going to do? What's he going to do?

So I just want to reassure them tonight, we are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.


CROWD: Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt. GINGRICH: Now, you might ask, in the face of a 5-1 onslaught, how can that be true? And I'll give you the answer. It was stated at an historic moment in 1863, in dedicating our first National Military Cemetery by the president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who said we have government of the people, by the people, for the people. And we're going to have people power defeat money power in the next six months.


GINGRICH: And you might say, how are we going to do that? Well, the same way that we came back in June and July and by December, we're ahead in the Gallup poll nationally by 12 or 13 points with no money. It turned out that if you have ideas and you have solutions and you're positive and you can communicate a better future, and you have a history of actually doing something in the past, that the combination begins to reach to the American people.

So let me talk briefly about what this is going to be about. This is the most important election of your lifetime.


GINGRICH: 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.


GINGRICH: So designing and putting together a people's campaign, not a Republican campaign, not an establishment campaign, not a Wall Street funded campaign, a people's campaign, and saying to every American of every background and every ethnic group and every community, we have a better future for you and your family. It's a future of jobs, it's a future of lower gasoline prices, it's a future of a balanced budget, it's a future of a smaller Washington, it's a future of more power back home to you and your family and your neighborhood.

This is a future we ask you to join us in imposing on the establishment in Washington and imposing it on both parties.


GINGRICH: Let's talk briefly about the power of ideas. In 1980, I was very honored to be able to help put together the first Capitol Steps event. And at that point, Senate and House candidates came together with Governor Reagan. David Broder wrote about it in the "Washington Post" as a very courageous decision by Reagan because he didn't have to run as part of a team. And he did something nobody had done before. And we won six U.S. Senate seats by a combined margin of 75,000 votes and we picked up 33 House seats.

In 1994, building on that experience, we got 350 candidates to come and to be part of a "Contract with America," to stand on the capitol steps. We offered a positive program and we had the largest one-party increase in American history in an off-year. Nine million additional Americans voted for a positive vision and we kept our word and every item on the contract was voted on in the first 93 days.


GINGRICH: There's a core question both in the primaries and in the general election. A simple question. If you're comfortable with the way America is decaying, then we don't have to change much. We can just manage the decay. If you think that's a terrible thing to do to your children and grandchildren, it's a terrible thing to do to your country, and if you are prepared to do what it takes to make sure that we change direction, not just the presidency, but the Congress, the bureaucracy, the judges, the policies, so that the entire system gets on the right track, so that America can give our children and grandchildren a more prosperous, a safe and better future, this is how big the gap is.

But there are folks over here in both parties who are quite comfortable managing the decay. I am running, Callista and I made the decision to run, our children, our son-in-laws joined us in that decision because we believe it is cheating our grandchildren to not insist on fundamental basic change in Washington, even if the establishment doesn't like it.


CROWD: Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt.

GINGRICH: In the next few days, we're going to develop the equivalent of the contract from 1994, except this is going to be a personal one between me and you, because I'm asking you to make me president and therefore, I have a personal responsibility. It's going to come in two parts. Part one is conditional and requires your help. Part two, I can do if I win the election, without having to condition it.

Part one only works if you help me and we run a team campaign, which means, by the way, we have to replace Bill Nelson with a conservative.


GINGRICH: But if you help us, and in addition to winning the presidency, we elect a Republican Senate and a Republican House, I will ask them on January 3rd to stay in office, and I will ask them to immediate pass the repeal of Obama-care.


GINGRICH: I will ask them to immediately pass the repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill, which is killing housing, killing small business and killing independent banks.


GINGRICH: And I will ask them to pass the repeal of Sarbanes- Oxley, which is crippling American businesses with no net profit.


GINGRICH: And my goal is to have all three bills sitting there, waiting, so the minute I am sworn in, I can sign all three and we're off to a pretty good opening morning.


GINGRICH: Now those three promises are conditional. We have to win the Senate by a big enough margin to manage it and we have to increase our strength in the House. Help me do that, I'll do those three.

Now let me tell you some things and we're going to put this together in a way that you'll be able to see in writing with my signature and you'll be able to hold me accountable. There are a series of executive orders I can issue that the Congress can't stop as long as they're within the law. The very first executive order will abolish all of the White House czars as of that moment.


GINGRICH: We will issue immediately an executive order on the same day. All of this is going to happen about two hours after the inaugural address.


GINGRICH: OK? No point in hanging out and having fun. Before we get to go to the various balls that night, we're going to have a work period. This is going to be a working presidency.


GINGRICH: I may not get in as much golf as Obama, but I'll get in a lot more job creation.



GINGRICH: And I tell you up front, I'm not going to compete with Obama in singing because I'm not running for entertainer-in-chief, I'm running for president.


GINGRICH: And I would say to him now, Mr. President, you cannot sing your way past the disaster of your presidency.


GINGRICH: Now, we will immediately -- you know, I forgot my teleprompter, I said to my staff earlier.


GINGRICH: I mean, I'm having to wing this because of the staff failure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't need it.

GINGRICH: So we're going to sign on that day the authorization for the immediate deployment of the Keystone Pipeline as of that day.


GINGRICH: My message to the people of Canada is, don't cut a deal with the Chinese. Help is on the way, by January, you're going to build the right pipeline to the right place.


GINGRICH: I'll just give you a couple more. We're going to put together a package. You're going to see, this is what a serious conservative president is like, who is bold and is prepared to change Washington despite the screams of the establishment on both parties. So a couple more steps. We will on that day sign an executive order that will instruct the State Department that day to open the embassy in Jerusalem and recognize Israel.


CROWD: Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt, Newt.

GINGRICH: Just two more examples. I will sign on that day an executive order reinstating Ronald Reagan's Mexico City policy, no U.S. money will go anywhere in the world to pay for abortion, period.


GINGRICH: And finally, many of you may have noticed that the Obama administration has declared war on the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. I want you to know that on the very first day, I will sign an executive order repealing every anti-religious act of the Obama administration as of that moment.


GINGRICH: The reason I am comfortable telling you all this is I have been studying what America needs to do since the fall of 1958, when my dad was stationed in Europe in the army. I have been working at what we need to do, as congressman, speaker of the House, in the private sector.

I believe it is possible to get this country back on track. My commitment is to unleash the spirit of the American people, to find new and innovative and positive things, to do them seven days a week, to do them relentlessly, to do them without stop, to make sure that we have fundamentally gotten America back on the right track.

And I pledge to each and every one of you personally, if you will reach out across the country, if you will use Facebook and YouTube and Twitter, and phone calls and even visits, if you will tell all of your friends in the other 46 states that there is a chance to nominate a conservative who knows what he is doing, who has done it before, and who has the courage and determination to get it done, I promise you that if I become your president, I pledge to you my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor. This is about America.

Thank you. Good luck and God bless you.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And you've been listening to Newt Gingrich in the wake of his loss in the state of Florida. David Gergen, Gloria Borger have been listening in as well.

What did you make of his tone, of his words?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Strange. Let's get past the point that there were no grace notes. There was no congratulations to Mitt Romney, which is normal for this. Both Romney and Santorum have been very gracious. But he's such a changeable figure. If this is the Newt Gingrich who'd shown up two weeks ago, if this is the Newt Gingrich who'd shown up in the debates, he might have done much, much better in Florida.

But coming after this massive loss in Florida now, to have a speech that sort of doesn't -- it's like he's in a different reality. You know, maybe he's right. Maybe he's seeing something that we don't see, and so you have to say, look, he's come back from the dead twice, so you have to give him that.

But it just seemed like, this was a speech he could have -- should have given maybe two weeks ago. This is -- the "Contract with America" idea is a very, very interesting idea but it's very late in the game.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought it was very odd and graceless not to congratulate Mitt Romney, number one, who won overwhelmingly. Number two, he spent the entire speech talking about what he would do his first day in office as president. And then spent the rest of the time railing against the establishment, which is clearly going to be his campaign theme going forward because what he has to do is convince the base of the base that he is the person who can represent the conservatives against the establishment, and that he is their person.

He was making that case over and over again. This is a people's campaign. It's the people versus the money. This is somebody who got -- whose super PAC is funded largely by one man with a $10 million donation.

COOPER: And David, what do you think he should have done? What do you think he should have tried to get across tonight? GERGEN: I am -- I do think that he should have started out with being gracious to Mitt Romney. I do think he should make the sign of Santorum argument, we've had enough of the garbage being thrown at each other, I got out-spent 5-1, I would like to go positive. And then I do think that maybe he ought to say in the next two or three days, I'm going to come forward with my own view.

But this had the sense of I'm going to do all these things when he had just massively failed. It was hard to -- the juxtaposition --

COOPER: Talking about what he was going to do before getting the ball --


GERGEN: Yes. As if he could do all these things, as if he was sort of a Superman president who -- you know, who just fell to earth in Florida.

COOPER: Yes. We're obviously standing by for Ron Paul's remarks as well, to supporters. We're going to bring you those.

Let's check in with Erin before we get to our analyst. Also to talk about Gingrich's speech and talk about the ads that they've seeing in Florida.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I mean, when -- you talk about sort of the lack of class and grace, obviously part of that fueled by the pure negativity we've seen. Ninety-three percent of the ads, we keep giving you that number, in the state of Florida ran negative. $18 million total. Obviously 5-1, Mitt Romney out-spending Newt Gingrich.

I just want to play a couple of these ads, for those of you who weren't bombarded by the and drowning in them in the state of Florida. Here's one paid for by the Romney campaign that NBC News had asked to be removed because they felt uncomfortable. It aired 1700 times since Friday. Here it is, Tom Brokaw.


TOM BROKAW: He has on his own record, the judgment of his peers, Democrat and Republican alike by an overwhelming vote, they found him guilty of ethics violations.


BURNETT: And obviously Tom Brokaw said he just felt uncomfortable with that airing, but that was just a sense of some of the negativity and again 1700 times just since Friday.

Here is one that Newt Gingrich's super PAC, Winning the Future, put on the air in Florida about Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Mitt Romney invented government-run health care, Romney advisors helped Barack Obama write the disastrous Obama-care.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We put them together an exchange and the president is copying that idea, I am glad to hear that.



BURNETT: There you have it. That was just some of the negative tone that you've seen in a lot of these ads.

And Anderson, I want to emphasize, when we talk about $18 million spent on television ads in Florida, that's only television and it's only broadcast television. When you look at cable, ads on CNN or MSNBC or FOX, that doesn't even count.

COOPER: Right.

BURNETT: So the amount of money is truly hard to imagine.

COOPER: In addition to robocalls and the like.

We're going to have a lot ahead. Our coverage continues all the way through the midnight hour and beyond.

You're going to want to hear this. Michelle Obama, the first lady, on national television, poking fun at Mitt Romney's singing ability. We'll play that for you ahead. Our coverage continues in a moment.


BLITZER: Ron Paul speaking in Las Vegas right now. Let's listen to him.



PAUL: Thank you very much.


PAUL: Thank you.

CROWD: Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul.

RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, if enthusiasm wins elections, we win hands down. This is great. This is very nice. Thank you very much for coming out. Just a little while ago, I called Governor Romney and congratulated him. No, we had a friendly conversation. I honestly congratulated him. He ran a good campaign, but also said I would see him soon in the caucus states.

You know, we've been having a fantastic trip and not too long ago, a few days ago, we were up in Maine, fantastic reception up in Maine. Today we had three visits in Colorado and they were fantastic. We visited with and we probably had attendance well over 5,000 today in Colorado.

You know, it looks like we have a few hundred here tonight to say the least, a thousand people. You know, a few months ago, there were nine, we're down to four. But tonight, we're in third place when it comes to delegates and that is what really counts.

We've only gotten started. Now, the -- and we will spend our time in the caucus states because if you have an irate minority, you do very well in the caucus states.

There is something else that the caucus states lend themselves to, because if you have an energized group of people that are working in a campaign and actually believe in something, it's better to work in the caucus states.

This is what has been so fantastic with the campaign. I've been doing a little bit of campaigning for liberty for a long time. Let me tell you something big is happening in this country and it's all very favorable.

The mess up in Washington they have created a mess that has given a lousy foreign policy. They have given a lousy budget and lousy recession, but wonderful thing that is happening in the grassroots.

People are beginning to realize that the problem is too much government. We need more personal liberty! This is where we're winning the hearts and minds of people. The numbers are growing. I tell you what. There are many brush fires of freedom being lit across this country today. We don't even know where they are there are so many.

It's being translated to great enthusiasm and change, the change that we need. We don't need to have more government. We need to get rid of some of the process of government. For instance, don't you think it's about time we have a new monetary policy.

And all we have to do is read the constitution, they tell us exactly what we're suppose to have. What about a foreign policy? We need a foreign policy, but do we have to inconvenient it?

No, all we have to do is read the constitution we need a strong national defense. We don't need to be the policemen of the world. Very simply we should not engage any wars that are not declared properly and supported by the people. I've gotten some advice on the internet every once in a while. And the advice is, Ron, if you would just change your foreign policy, you would get a few supporters. If they only knew that the support for the freedom movement comes with a sound economic and a sound foreign policy that makes sense.

Very simply, it means bringing our troops home and stopping all these undeclared, unwinnable wars. What would it do for our economy? I would like to see troops spending their money at home. In the last 10 years, fighting these unwinnable and undeclared wars we have spent over $4 trillion.

More in the debt for this so at a cost of life and limb, but there is an economic cost, as well and the American people are tired of it. They are ready because they know this country is bankrupt. All great nations go down because they overextend themselves overseas.

It's time for us to wake up, don't wait for an economic crisis to hit when we have to come limping home. We ought to rise up, spend our money wisely and defend this country and don't present fend to tell other people how to live.

The greatest danger when we accept the notion that the government is supposed today take care of us and we're supposed to policemen of the world all is done at expense of personal liberty. The purpose of the government is the protection of individual liberty for each and every one of us.

We need to reverse this trend on the attack on our civil liberties. We need to repeal the Patriot Act. We need to repeal the provision that the president has the authority to assassinate American citizens without trial.

We need repeal the provision that says the president can use the military to arrest and deny them a trial. Very simply, send only people to Washington, send only people to the White House that know and understand and read the constitution and enforce the constitution.

Then there would be, then you would have the full understanding how you would have a peaceful thriving nation if you enforce the concept of liberty, enforce the liberty for each and every one of us equally.

This brings people together because people will use their liberty in different manners, but we don't have to fight over how they use their liberty as long as they assume responsibility for themselves and consequences of all their actions.

It also very simply suggests the fact if we have a right to life and liberty we should have a right to keep the fruits of our labor as well. So we don't have to reinvent something, we can improve on our past but we had a great constitution and a great middle-class, biggest middle-class ever.

We've undermined it with excessive taxation and a monetary system that is flawed and foreign policy is flawed. So all we have to do is return to our roots and in a short time, we could have our peace and prosperity and our reliance on ourselves for our personal liberty.

Not only has this been a great day for campaign for liberty and this process, but it's been a great week for the campaign. Believe me it's been a great past four years because five or six or seven years ago, they really didn't know exactly what was happening.

But with the crisis that that hit, both the economic crisis we had four years ago, the realization of the significance of our Federal Reserve system as well as flawed foreign policy, the people know about it. They are awakening to this. They are listening to this message. It's up to us to do something about it.

The message is loud and clear the enthusiasm is here, but it has to be translated to proper political action. Attending the caucuses send a powerful message to this country that we want our freedoms back. We don't want more government! Thank you very much!

BLITZER: Ron Paul, the Texas congressman. You see Mrs. Paul over there. You see his supporters. The Ron Paul campaign -- Ron Paul speaking tonight, making it clear, he's not going anywhere. He's got a major effort under way to win some of these caucuses that are coming up in November.

We heard earlier from Newt Gingrich. He's not going anywhere either. If there was any doubt about his future, he says 46 states left to go.

Here's the question that we're going to be assessing when we come back: how does this potential fight go all the way to the convention -- to the convention in Tampa, at the end of August, potentially a nightmare scenario for Mitt Romney, the winner of the Florida primary. Our coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: All right. Let me just update you on what's going on as far as delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa at the end of August; 1,144 delegates are needed in order to secure the Republican presidential nomination. Right now, it's very, very early in the process.

As of tonight, with all 50 delegates from Florida going to Mitt Romney, he has 84; Newt Gingrich has 27; Ron Paul has 10; Rick Santorum has eight. Let's go over to John King.

John, a very decisive win tonight by Mitt Romney. But I got to tell you, as far as the all important delegate count is concerned, very early in the game. So maybe Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are right when they say they've only just begun to fight.

KING: If you were watching at home when Speaker Gingrich spoke, 46 states to go was the motto there. It is an impressive victory for Romney tonight. But as you noted, let's move on. Let's go to the delegate map.

Now this is before tonight. This is January 31st. Let's give him the Florida primary. Those are the numbers you just said. So we're done with January. Now we're on to February. Right now, February is a month that looks like it's built for Mitt Romney.

I'm going to do -- this is a hypothetical at home. If you're a Ron Paul supporter, a Newt Gingrich supporter, a Rick Santorum supporter, you might not like this. But let's say hypothetically Mitt Romney runs the calendar in February, the Nevada caucuses, Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. Missouri's a little complicated in how they award it, but I'm going to give it to him here.

There's another process later on. Maine is a state where you better watch Ron Paul here. For the sake of argument, I'm going to give it to Mitt Romney. Again, Ron Paul could win the state of Maine.

So we get through February 11th there, and then you have the two big contests in February at the end, Arizona and Michigan. Again, this is a hypothetical. I'm just saying if Mitt Romney runs the month of February, he would get to 256. Gingrich, Santorum and Paul would stay right there. Eleven hundred and forty four is what you need. So that is a big lead.

But, Wolf, it is a very, very long way to the finish line, which is why Newt Gingrich says I am going to stay in the race. Then we move on to March. March 3rd, the Washington caucuses, again, I am going to give that one to Ron Paul. He may win one of these caucus states. Let's, for the hypothetical, give that one to Ron Paul. He could win more than one. But let's give him one there.

Then you move on here, Super Tuesday. This is why Gingrich is in the race right here. You see Virginia flashing, an important point; Newt Gingrich is not on the ballot. A southern state, this could come back to haunt him as this goes on. He also hasn't filed some delegate slates in Tennessee. So he could win the state and not get all the delegates.

But this is a hypothetical, giving some states to Romney -- you see them in dark red -- the southern states, Oklahoma, to Newt Gingrich. That gets Gingrich -- Romney still pulling ahead. Let's go through the month.

Let's just split right there, Kansas, Virgin Islands there. Then we come again, this is why Gingrich says he will stay in the race. You get Alabama and Mississippi. If you give those over to Gingrich, then we're moving on again. The Missouri caucuses -- I told you that's a two-step process. I give it back to Romney there again. For the sake of argument, we'll give Puerto Rico -- then you come here, Illinois would be Romney.

You get later Louisiana, another southern state, give that to Gingrich for the sake of argument. Here's where Gingrich wants to stay in the race, Wisconsin, Maryland, the big prize of Texas. Remember, when Rick Perry jumped out, he endorsed Speaker Gingrich. So, again, for the sake of argument, we'll give up here to Mitt Romney, down here to Newt Gingrich.

Look what happens with Texas, Wolf. We could get to the point where we're at April 3rd and Romney is ahead. I'll take this off now, because he's closer to the finish line. He's closer, but Gingrich is in the ballpark then. That's what he's hoping, to take this race on to then and make a race.

If you want to go all the way through, we could keep going. We're into May. We're into May. And I'm splitting this essentially north-south. You could have a scenario where let's just say this is Gingrich -- Gingrich there. you come around here. I gave Santorum Pennsylvania here. We could get to June. We could keep going.

This scenario, Romney could win in June, but that's including him winning all up here. If someone else were to take a couple of these states, if Gingrich were to take them, Ron Paul were to take them, you knock him back. We could go to June.

BLITZER: Some of those states are not winner take all. They're proportional.

KING: We're giving the delegates on a proportional basis. Essentially, we're giving the winner the bulk of the delegates, and then the other ones down, basing it on proportion.

So this is a hypothetical. At home, If you're watching, just say, hey, wait a minute. But it's just to show, Romney, even if he's running the board, if Gingrich can hold the southern states, he can stay in this for a long time.

The question is, after tonight and a convincing victory, if Romney then runs the map in February -- the question is can Speaker Gingrich keep raising money.

And we'll come back to today, just so we don't confuse anybody. This is where we are right now.

BLITZER: He has made it clear he's not going anywhere, at least for now. March 6th, Super Tuesday, obviously going to be very, very important.

Let's not forget that four years ago, the Democratic primary went all the way through June. You remember covering Puerto Rico. Who would have thought in June, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would still be fighting it out? So it wouldn't be unprecedented at all.

KING: It would not be. But the conversation that's being had in the Republican party tonight, as they're watching at the Obama headquarters in Chicago is this -- Paul Begala was talking about this earlier. Back in 2004, yes, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- Senator Clinton and Senator Obama -- I'm sorry, 2008 -- they went on into June.

They were fighting, but their supporters all figured if the other wins, I'm fine; I'll be with them. The question is are Republicans going to be more divided or more unified if this goes on?

BLITZER: Good point. Excellent point. Let's go over to Anderson. Anderson, you know, if there was any doubt whatsoever about Newt Gingrich's plans, he made it clear tonight he's fighting. He's continuing full-speed ahead.

COOPER: Yes. But as John mentioned, can he continue to raise the money down the road, especially if Mitt Romney has a good February in other states? And can he resist what will be growing pressure if Mitt Romney continues to win?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes is the short answer, because there's only a few mega-donors who are financing his super PAC. It's not his, but it's one that's associated in supporting his campaign. And he got through a terrible summer, when I and everybody else completely wrote him off.

He is -- he seemed to be -- it was not a good speech, first off. He seems to be trying hard to become the populist in the race, and the anti-establishment guy in the race. I guess that's sort of a place for him to be.

But it didn't do himself a ton of good. But he certainly didn't look like a guy who wanted to send out an olive branch to Romney and maybe climb back off the ledge, either.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But Newt's wing that's going to bring him back, if he does comes back, is not going to be the olive branch bringing wing. It's going to be the power of ideas wing in the Republican party.

And the one thing that stood in Newt's speech, that did have a great appeal to me, at least, was on his first day in office, if Congress passes those three repeals, he will sign them on January 20th. Now that's pretty exciting for a conservative, for a Republican to hear.

That's the undoing of the Obama administration legislatively. That's a lot of excitement for Republicans to hear that. So the power of idea was in Newt's speech.

Of course, you would never hear that message, Paul. But a lot of Republicans would.

BEGALA: I can't believe it took 15 million dollars to beat this guy. It was not a good speech.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Power of ideas -- I've always said Republicans are so hungry for an ideas hungry guy like Newt Gingrich that were even turn to Newt Gingrich, who has I think demonstrated why he's a flawed candidate in that concession speech.

There's a way you lose elections. When you lose elections, voters are telling you something. They have rejected you. If you want to go forward, you have to say, I hear you; I know you told me something tonight. I embrace that; I move forward with it. Here is what we're going to do different. He doubled down on exactly what he's been doing. I think the guy to watch coming out of all this is Santorum. As we go into some of these states coming up, who is the Republican that has the highest favorable rating? Santorum.

If Romney has to keep his foot with negative ads on Gingrich's throat, that means Santorum can run loose a little bit. I think if conservatives are going to unite on an anti-Romney candidate, I think the bet now is Santorum.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We're going to hear from Donna Brazile when we come back.

We're also going to tell you why some people in the Obama campaign are worried about the results out of Florida tonight. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. A fascinating night in the state of Florida. Let's check in with Jessica Yellin, who is at the White House tonight. Is there concern in the Obama White House over the results tonight?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the most interesting number I see there is the overwhelming figure Mitt Romney got among Hispanics, at least in the exit poll; 54 percent for Mitt Romney among Latinos. This is a key demographic for President Obama to win in November.

And if the president loses even one percent in Florida or Nevada among Latinos, he could lose the White House over that. So the Obama team is insisting that they're not concerned about this, because Romney's locked himself into position that they could argue -- that they can use to persuade Latinos in the general election are, quote, extreme, anti-immigrant position.

But if you compare what Mitt Romney's vote was tonight -- 54 percent, based on exit polls -- to the vote he got among Latinos in the primary in 2008, 14 percent, an enormous difference, Anderson.

COOPER: Governor Romney saying a little on the campaign trail. I want to play some of that, because Michelle Obama actually referenced it, sort of poked fun of it.

But first, let's show Governor Romney.




MORGAN: OK. So what did Michelle Obama say?

YELLIN: She was -- she will be on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. He asked if she had heard this. This was her answer.


JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Now did you hear Mitt Romney sing? What did you think.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I saw it in the green room. Beautiful.

LENO: Beautiful.

OBAMA: And it is America's song, and it's song that is meant to be sung by every American.

LENO: That is right.


YELLIN: Anderson, she also gave him apples with White House honey, a little late for the New Year. And if you get that reference, I'll give you a dreidel.

COOPER: Try to, I guess. Jessica Yellin, thanks very much. Let's check in with Brooke Baldwin, who has been checking out social media. She's in Tampa tonight. Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I don't get the dreidel reference either. Sorry, no singing for me. But I do want to talk about the pivot. Because we found something that will likely be a headline tomorrow morning, that is really popping on social media. I'm talking about the Mitt Romney pivot to Obama in hearing his speech.

Let me just preface this sound bite we've cued up for you. He quotes Thomas Payne. If you remember your American History 101, he wrote "Common Sense," English born American writer, influential papers during the American Revolution. So that is the set up. Here you go, Mitt Romney from just an hour ago. Take a listen.


ROMNEY: Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses. In another era of American crisis, Thomas Payne is reported to have said "lead, follow or get out of the way." Well, Mr. President, you were elected to lead. You chose to follow. Now it's time for you to get out of the --


BALDWIN: And that line got huge, huge applause, if you heard him. By the way, he spoke right at the building across the bay here from us in Tampa.

Take a look here, as we always like to take a look at Twitter sentiment the day of, especially right before his speech. You can see -- take a look at the green line, already hugely positive in the Twitter-verse -- talking about Mitt Romney.

Guys, if you can forward the graphic, you can see -- watch the green line with me, because you'll see post-speech, even more popular. Just to sort of prove our thesis that the pivot really worked well on social media, we're going to pull up a couple of different Tweets first, because these are the influential folks on Twitter. These are the folks who are going to be writing the headlines tomorrow morning.

First, this is your senior writer at "Washington Examiner." a newspaper. He Tweets, "Romney complimenting rivals and pivoting to Obama, a sure sign that he's confident he has the nomination wrapped up."

So again, this sort of theme of confidence and he's been an aggressive candidate down here in Florida. Another one from -- this is a huge conservative blogger. He Tweets, "Romney focusing on general election issues in his victory speech. Warm regard for his GOP competitors, attacking Obama."

This is really the first time he hasn't attacked any of the other competitors here on the Republican side.

Finally, Mitt Romney himself Tweeting as well, Anderson, "thank you, Florida. While we celebrate this victory, we must not forget what this election is really about, defeating Barack Obama." The pivot in the Nevada papers in the morning, as this is where this is going come Saturday. Anderson?

COOPER: Brooke, thanks very much. Our coverage continues right now with Anderson Cooper, "AC 360."