Looks like the South Carolina Republican verdict has taught some good lessons to Mitt Romney. The NBC-Florida debate saw a different version of Romney, who was at his aggressive best.
Romney was so far trying to project himself much above the other candidates in the fray and his attacks were directed more at Barack Obama than his Republican rivals. But Monday night's debate saw Romney attacking Newt Gingrich at every opportunity he got. He also made his intentions very clear when he said, I learned something from South Carolina and I'm not going to sit back without returning fire.
The debate began with the one of the moderators asking the candidates about their electability. All the four candidates expressed confidence about being more electable than their rivals.
However, Romney had his knives out in no time. Referring to Gingrich's resignation from the post of the U.S. House Speaker, Romney called him a disgraced leader.
Romney said that while he was working his way up, Gingrich was playing dirty politics in Washington and had to resign in disgrace -- a comment that Gingrich vehemently fought back.
Romney, unlike in the past, did not mince words. He called Gingrich an influence peddler, criticizing his contract with Freddie Mac. He accused Gingrich of misleading, by describing his services to the mortgage giant as advice given in the capacity of a historian, while actually getting paid for lobbying.
It was evident that Gingrich got more than what he bargained for from Romney as he struggled more than once to successfully rebut allegations leveled against him.
You were making over a million dollars while people in Florida were being hurt by millions of dollars, Romney said referring to Gingrich's remuneration from Freddie Mac. Gingrich looked incredulous and said Romney's accusations were wrong and that he was getting unnecessarily personal and nasty, which is sad.
Romney looked determined to make up his lost advantage and appeared strong and convincing in is arguments.
Gingrich, on the other hand, was more on defensive in the debate, but attempted to raise Bain Capital and tax return issue against Romney.
The debate is a clear indicator that the war is not going to end any time soon and Republican candidates will go any distance to attack each other. They have also learned the hard way that aggressiveness helps in connecting with the voters, from Gingrich's victory in South Carolina.