As the congratulatory calls trickled in to Mitt Romney after his 14-point victory in Florida Tuesday night, the message was pretty clear from main rival Newt Gingrich: Don’t wait by the phone.
“The other candidates all called,’’ Romney told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Wednesday. “I guess Speaker Gingrich doesn’t have our phone number.’’Video: Romney: Path ahead looking ‘very good’ (on this page)
Gingrich skipped the customary congratulatory call after Romney's Iowa and New Hampshire victories, too, though Romney claims he called Gingrich after the former speaker's South Carolina primary win.Video: Gregory: ‘Inevitability’ restored for Romney (on this page)
The ongoing mudslinging between the two candidates was caricatured on the latest cover of “The New Yorker.’’ In a parody of Super Bowl Sunday, it shows President Obama delightedly watching a big-screen television featuring Gingrich and Romney pummeling each other while wearing the same uniform. Romney’s campaign poured $15 million into attack ads against Gingrich in Florida.
The negative strategies show no signs of slowing. “We are going to contest every place," Gingrich told his supporters Tuesday, "and we are going to win.’’
“I’m not enough of a political historian or a pundit to suggest how the length of the campaign will affect our ultimate success, but I can tell you at this point that I think it’s been helpful,’’ Romney told Lauer. “I think the back and forth and even the attacks have been helpful because what’s going to come from Barack Obama will be the same, just a heck of a lot more of it. Having people get a chance to see what the truth is, I think is a positive thing, but as to how long it’ll go, that’s really up to the other candidates to decide and, of course if I’m the nominee, that’s for me to decide as well.’’Story: Who sings it better? Romney vs. Obama
Two sources told NBC News that Romney will getting Secret Service protection later this week because of his growing prominence and the increasing size of the crowds he is drawing. Romney now heads to Minnesota, where he hopes to secure the endorsement of former Republican candidate Michele Bachmann, who questioned his conservative credentials early in the race.
“I’d like all the endorsements I could possibly get,’’ Romney said. “Any question about the support of conservatives I think was clear enough last night in Florida. People who call themselves ‘conservative’ and ‘very conservative’ overwhelmingly supported my campaign. Tea Partiers supported my campaign, so I’m hoping I can convince people in Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. I’ve got to get a lot of support from many in my party.’’
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