After Mitt Romney's "crushing victory" in Florida's GOP primary, his rivals vowed to take the fight at least to the next Republican presidential contest, Nevada's Feb. 4 caucus. "I called Gov. Romney and congratulated him," Ron Paul told an enthusiastic crowd in Las Vegas Tuesday night. "I also said I would see him soon in the caucus states!" Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum made similar pledges. But Romney leaves Florida on a wave of momentum — and, starting Thursday, with Secret Service protection, as ABC News reports — for a state he dominated in 2008, winning more than half its delegates. That said, "Nevada has a history of being a maverick state," David G. Schwartz at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, tells the Boston Herald. "I think it can be a real wild card." Is Romney unstoppable?
Yes, Romney's a sure bet in Nevada: It's almost impossible to see how Romney could lose the GOP nomination after Florida, says John Dickerson in Slate, where he won decisively among a broad range of swing-state Republicans, even conservatives. And now "he rolls on with wheels that are made of money" to the "very favorable" terrain of Nevada and other key states he won in 2008. "The next contest where Gingrich might have a good chance is almost a month from now," and that's too late to matter.
Nevada's not a slam dunk: "Gingrich is betting on a wild card": Help will come from from Nevada's strong Tea Party faction, not to mention his deep-pocketed patron, Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, says Amy Gardner in The Washington Post. But, Newt aside, Romney's biggest threat is Ron Paul, whose enthusiastic Nevada operation is "significantly stronger today than it was four years ago," when he came in second. Paul's fans will turn out on a wintry Saturday, and the Libertarian is even making inroads with Nevada's big Mormon population, a Romney stronghold.
"Can Mitt Romney be stopped in Nevada?"
Forget Nevada — it's all about Dixie: Romney's heavily favored to win Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan — February's "headline contests," says Steve Kornacki in Salon. But Gingrich has a credible shot at stopping Mitt in "the early weeks of March, when the Old Confederacy will finally get its say." If Newt wins Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, "all of the talk about Romney as a fatally flawed candidate for the Tea Party era would restart and the race would almost certainly last all the way to the GOP convention."
"Sorry, Mitt, your nightmare's not over yet"