Ohio’s Republican presidential primary is still up in the air — and could be for a very long time — but all of the major candidates have already given their victory speeches.
1. Rick Santorum: Santorum spent most of his time pushing an economic populist message that plays well in places like Ohio and other Rust Belt states. Santorum was forceful but not overly exuberant. He played the underdog card well (“We have won races all over this country against the odds,” he said. “We keep coming back.”) He was, in a word, reasonable, and entirely plausible as a potential Republican nominee. This was Santorum’s best speech since his address after the Iowa caucuses.
2. Mitt Romney: Romney is never bad. He is also rarely that good either. And tonight, he was somewhere in between. Romney focused almost all of his time talking about President Obama and playing nice with his Republican rivals. (“Nice races,” he said to his opponents at one point.) Romney, like he always does, hit all the notes — Obama has failed on the economy, he’s out of touch, he doesn’t care — but there just didn’t seem to be much passion in the words. Connecting has always been Romney’s biggest problem. Watching tonight’s speech it’s obvious he hasn’t found an answer to that problem yet.
3. Newt Gingrich: Gingrich spoke the longest and the worst tonight. His speech read like a Festivus holiday with a long list of grievances — against the “media elites”, the national Republican party, Romney, Santorum — being aired by the former House Speaker. If you loved Gingrich going into tonight, you loved him coming out of it. But if you were undecided, it’s hard to see Gingrich’s speech, which rambled at times and went on way too long, convincing you to be for him.