Politics is all about money…period. It doesn’t matter if a candidate has big ideas or if he or she is an empty suit. If a candidate can raise the money, they can win.
Does that sound jaded? Perhaps! But if you are still skeptical all you have to do is look at what is going on in the Florida Republican primary.
Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich by 15 points going into tomorrow’s primary vote. He has built that lead by eviscerating Gingrich with $16 million dollars worth of vicious attack ads. These ads are short on political substance but very long on nasty, inflammatory rhetoric.
Florida is more like a country than a state. It has 10 major media markets separated by a vast geographic expanse. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina; you can’t drive around Florida to get your message across. You win Florida by buying 30 second media ads. That takes money; lots and lots of money. Romney will win Florida because he has the funds to unleash a tsunami of negative ads across those major media markets. He could have used that media time to inspire the country. He could have explained his vision for the future. But Romney doesn’t have any big ideas and he is about as inspirational as an ashtray. His own campaign staff said as much to the New York Times. So coming off a South Carolina loss and facing a surging opponent; Romney did what he does best. He spent $16 million dollars attacking Gingrich, hoping to deflect further inspection of his own empty candidacy.
Make no mistake Gingrich is just as bad. He has no vision other than going to the moon and promoting his own self interest. Newt spent $4 million attacking Romney. But when you are outspent 4-1 you generally lose.
So what happens next?
Newt is angry. Romney’s negative campaign has embarrassed and infuriated the former Speaker. If Newt can’t win the nomination he will do everything in his power to take Romney down with him. Gingrich has vowed to continue the fight all the way to the convention. If he can get to March; where his campaign rolls through a string of southern primaries that favor his candidacy, he may get his wish. But that takes money. The only way Newt makes it to March is through the continued financial support of an eccentric Las Vegas billionaire.
Romney is the frontrunner. He doesn’t have any big ideas for the country. He lacks a positive message. His plan for the country is to get out of the way and let nature take its course. We’ve seen this movie before; and it ends badly.
But Romney has the money. And no matter how weak a candidate is; he who has the most money wins.