Republican Candidates Address Florida Supporters Former Gov. Mitt Romney addresses supporters after coming in second in Florida's Republican primary. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani congratulates Sen. John McCain and Romney for their first-and second-place finishes in Florida. Robert Siegel talks with political analysts EJ Dionne, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist at the Washington Post, and David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times.
NPR logo

Republican Candidates Address Florida Supporters

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18527283/18527499" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Republican Candidates Address Florida Supporters

Republican Candidates Address Florida Supporters

Republican Candidates Address Florida Supporters

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18527283/18527499" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Former Gov. Mitt Romney addresses supporters after coming in second in Florida's Republican primary. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani congratulates Sen. John McCain and Romney for their first-and second-place finishes in Florida. Robert Siegel talks with political analysts EJ Dionne, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist at the Washington Post, and David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Here's some of what Mitt Romney is saying.

MITT ROMNEY: (Soundbite of cheers)

ROMNEY: (Soundbite of cheers)

ROMNEY: Unidentified Man: Yeah.

ROMNEY: (Soundbite of cheers)

ROMNEY: (Soundbite of cheers)

ROMNEY: (Soundbite of cheers)

SIEGEL: A few moments ago, the former mayor of New York City addressed his supporters, and he, like Mitt Romney later, congratulated the winner today.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI: I want to congratulate each of my opponents on a hard-fought campaign here in Florida. I want to congratulate Senator McCain, who, I believe has been declared the winner. I spoke to Mitt Romney and told him my regard for him as well. These are honorable people. They're accomplished public servants, and they're good men, and we should - and as well as Mike Huckabee.

SIEGEL: And while we're waiting for Senator McCain, what better than to hear from our two regular political observers, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution, and David Brooks of The New York Times. Hi.

DIONNE: Hey.

DAVID BROOKS: Howdy.

SIEGEL: David, Republican primary - is John McCain now a - is he a juggernaut headed straight to the White House in November?

BROOKS: He's a mini-juggernaut. And it is clearly the most decisive night at the Republican side so far. If Mitt Romney was going to change the momentum, this was the place he had to do it. It's the primary where only Republicans can vote. It's the primary - it's a state where he can outspend, which he did, John McCain, I think eight to one or ten to one. And it's a state where the moderates are split between Giuliani and McCain; that won't happen anymore. And McCain is far ahead in many of the big states on Super Tuesday. So he goes in with quite a lot of momentum, and you wouldn't - you'd be foolish to bet against him at this point.

SIEGEL: E.J., do you agree?

DIONNE: The question is: Can Romney demonize him as a kind of liberal? He tried to do that in Florida, and it didn't work.

SIEGEL: David, when you were going out and covering the campaigns a year ago, I remember, you came back and said, you go to these events, people are talking about immigration - a lot of people talking about it.

BROOKS: Yeah.

SIEGEL: Has it just been eclipsed by other things? Or - why doesn't it motivate more people to vote one way or the other?

BROOKS: And let's face it. I think the polling data suggests here that when we ask people, are you voting on this issue or that issue, that doesn't get at the real thing they're voting on. They're voting on character. And that's why they voted for McCain over Romney, not that they agree with him, but because they basically think he's trustworthy, and they're not sure about Mitt Romney.

SIEGEL: You agree with that, E.J.?

DIONNE: I think character certainly had a lot to do with it. It's also worth noting that Florida is one of those rare states where Latino voters, the Hispanics play a significant role in Republican politics. About one in ten of the voters today, according to the exit polls, were Hispanic. And they voted pretty strongly for John McCain, so that clearly helped him. But I think the consistency of the immigration issue - it's one in five Republicans, not more than that - suggests that it may not have the reach that many thought it did earlier in the year.

SIEGEL: One brief question before I let you guys go for now. And that is this: On the Democratic side, an odd primary in which no delegates were awarded, and yet, the results of who got how many white votes and how many black votes -very similar to what happened in South Carolina except there are far fewer black votes in Florida - is Barack Obama in the box he didn't want to be put in going into South Carolina?

BROOKS: Well, I really don't think so. I don't think this result means much, A, because they didn't campaign there; B, because in every state we've had so far, the Democrats - the Democratic voters outnumber the Republicans in huge margins, and here they have not. That means there's a lot of Democrats who just weren't mobilized this time. And if they had come out, especially African-Americans and younger voters, Obama would have done a lot better.

SIEGEL: E.J., you have the last word here.

DIONNE: This will mean something if voters in the 22-odd states that vote next week decide - it means something, otherwise, it doesn't mean that much. Obama does better in states he campaigns in, and he didn't have a chance to campaign here. The Clinton people will say this really matters.

SIEGEL: E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution, David Brooks of The New York Times, thanks to both of you.

BROOKS: Thank you.

DIONNE: Thank you.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.