Businessman Herman Cain gave an evening speech in Michigan, despite saying earlier in the day that he was “reassessing” his campaign after the allegation Monday that he had an extramarital affair.
In a campaign that has been dominated by a series of nationally televised debates, the candidates sought to sharpen their pitches in more intimate settings and build momentum heading into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses that kick off the nominating contest.
“This is that point where everyone can see the finish line, and all of a sudden, the candidates start to sweat,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said. “We’re in Act Three — the big battle — and it’s the beads of cold sweat. The geometry gets a lot more complicated now.”
In an unpredictable race of booms and busts, the one constant near the top has been Romney. Yet he, too, was looking for a new edge. He campaigned in Miami amid boxes of guava bites and cans of coconut water, trying to ingratiate himself with Florida’s politically powerful Cuban American community. The confident Romney declared to the Democrats, who have begun attacking him on a regular basis: “Bring it on.”
But the former Massachusetts governor has never been the candidate of the moment. At this moment, that’s Newt Gingrich, who cut the ribbon at one of five new campaign offices in South Carolina — a symbolic gesture of his changing fortunes.
In a late-day interview on Fox News, Romney lodged his first attack on his surging rival, labeling Gingrich “a lifelong politician” and suggesting he lacks credibility on economic issues.
Asked by Fox News’s Bret Baier whether Gingrich could beat President Obama, Romney said: “I think to get President Obama out of office, you’re going to have to bring something to the race that’s different than what he brings. He’s a lifelong politician. I think you have to have the credibility of understanding how the economy works. And I do.”
Rick Perry, meanwhile, journeyed to New Hampshire in search of a rebound that could get him back into a race. The Texas governor campaigned with an Arizona sheriff known for his harsh stance against illegal immigrants, but the Texas governor’s slip of the tongue at a town hall meeting — he suggested that the legal voting age is 21, not 18 — was a fresh reminder of his struggles.
Romney: ‘Bring it on’
During a pair of campaign stops in Florida on Tuesday, Romney tried to highlight his private-sector experience and business know-how, sticking to themes that have become staples of his stump speeches. And though he kept his focus exclusively on Obama, some of his swipes might also apply to Gingrich and Perry, who have long careers in elected office.