Then the Romney machine went crazy, carpet bombing Florida with the nastiest ads in Republican primary history. In particular, a Romney supported super PAC ran an ad with the imagery of bribery. Repeated suitcases fell in the luggage carousel at the airport exposing how Newt Gingrich received a suitcase of greenbacks from special interests. While Newt Gingrich isn't perfect, it was unconscionable to accuse him of accepting bribes. Romney and his people had gone too far.
Ironically for Romney, when he attacks Gingrich, the votes don't come to him. They go to Rick Santorum. Romney's millions has breathed new life into the Santorum campaign and most likely helped him win Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado.
So Romney has changed tactics again. Now he is targeting his millions at Santorum. Question is will the voters scared away from that campaign go to Romney, Gingrich, or Ron Paul.
It seems pretty clear that in the South and Midwest, Romney cannot assemble a plurality. He only does well in the liberal states of the Northeast and far West. He still has millions to spend, and Wall Street is pouring millions more into his super PACs.
Romney now has his sights set on mortally wounding Rick Santorum as he has wounded Newt Gingrich. But this win at all costs may be a hollow victory. Without conservative support in the fall for the moderate Romney, he won't mount an effective challenge to Obama, even if he barely wins the nomination. Romney aggressive campaign is alienating conservatives even as it depresses Republican turnout to the lowest levels in decades.