With a Crowded Republican Field, Candidates Set Sights on Florida
".....Messers. Giuliani, McCain and Huckabee will square off in Florida against Mitt Romney, who has the most wins thus far. Mr. Romney won a trio of early contests, though in the comparatively little-watched states of Wyoming, Michigan and, on Saturday, Nevada.
".....All four have a shot at Florida, according to recent surveys. An average of polls taken between Jan. 9 and Jan. 16 (the days after contests in New Hampshire and Michigan, respectively) gave Mr. McCain a lead within the statistical margin of error. He has 23 points, compared to 20 for Mr. Giuliani, 18 for Mr. Romney and 17 for Mr. Huckabee. Fred Thompson, who came in a disappointing third in South Carolina, has 8.5 points. Ron Paul, the distant second-place finisher in Nevada, has just five.
".....While candidates refocus their messages for Floridians, they'll also reexamine their finances. Mr. Romney, the richest candidate in the race, has the least to worry about in terms of the bottom line both because of his personal fortune and his wealthy network of investors. On the other end of the spectrum is Mr. Giuliani, whose financial situation is far less secure. Reports surfaced last week that some of his top aides have gone without pay checks. The McCain camp reported a boost in funding after the wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Mr. Huckabee is holding a fund-raiser in Texas today – his band, Capitol Offense will perform – and is expected to appear with martial arts star Chuck Norris.
".....Mr. Romney, who arrived in Jacksonville Saturday afternoon, had similar sentiments. "I do acknowledge how important it is to win here in Florida and how much I'd like to win here," he said. "My guess is so would everybody else."
".....Mr. Romney will spend the next week competing around Florida under a strategy devised by his Sunshine State advisors. His team includes many associates of Jeb Bush, the former governor of this state and brother of President Bush. Sally Bradshaw, an advisor to Mr. Romney, was Mr. Bush's chief of staff from 1999-2000 and managed his gubernatorial campaigns in 1994 and 1998. Ann Woods Herberger, Mr. Romney's national finance chair, is from Miami and also worked on Mr. Bush's 1998 gubernatorial campaign."