Could it finally be time? Has the merry-go-round come to a stop?
If the GOP wants to finally start building party unity and momentum, Mitt Romney’s victory in Florida should be the signal fire for those who actually care about building strength for the presidential election (which is now only a surprisingly close 10 months away).
And this is why:
Romney can stop dividing his party by ending his carpet-bombing of Gingrich with negative ads. Romney spent over $9 million in Florida, whereas Gingrich spent only $3.8 million.
To be frank, as much as I dislike Gingrich, there is not much honor in resorting to a relentless campaign of television and radio ads tearing apart your opponent (one TV commmercial ended saying “If Newt Gingrich wins, this man would be very happy,” as a picture of Obama showed on the screen).
In 2008, Romney also led all candidates in Florida by spending $5.6 million, followed by Rudy Giuliani at $3 million, and Sen. John McCain at $2.1 million.
McCain, despite spending the least on advertising, still won.
Romney learned from his mistakes and spent more. Not only did he spend more, but he spent more on negative advertising than self-promotion advertisting.
So what does this say about our political culture?
Last week, for those of you who read, I talked about how boring the candidates have become and how the race has almost lost a sort of integrity that past races seemed to have.
This year, especially in Florida, mud-slinging has been rampant. It’s always been present, but Romney may have just clinched the nomination with this looked-down-upon tool.
But, Romney is running by legendary Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis’ famous motto, “just win, baby.”
Romney stepped his finances and advertisements into high-gear, causing the American people to question where to the draw the line on how we should advertise politics and perhaps even how much money we should spend on campaigns.
Should we condemn Romney for his somewhat dishonorable tactics to win Florida then? Romney himself acknowledged that his negative ad blitz was working very well leading up to the primary.
We should not – yet at least. Perhaps this was a necessary evil. Perhaps Newt was hurting his party by hanging on, delaying the inevitable and hurting Romney in the process.
This could create a huge push forward for Romney against Obama. But if he does not live up to his promises, Romney will be branded as a power seeking mud-slinger.
Instead of resorting to mud-slinging to bring down his fellow Republican candidates – and thereby divide his party – he can aim his guns at Obama, which he already started in his victory speech after clinching Florida, “Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow, and now it’s time to get out of the way.”
Whatever the case, the GOP needs to make their decision now.