We originally thought that we could get away with covering the primary from Miami; maybe hit a few campaign events during the day, drink terrible, overpriced drinks served by male models at night. No such luck though, since Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were campaigning exclusively around the I-4 corridor linking Tampa to Orlando. Apparently there are other guys still running, but they decided to head to Nevada because, well, fuck it.
The drive from Miami to Orlando is basically one giant landfill next to a Dairy Queen on the beach, so we decided to stop for a break. At Boynton Beach, we wandered from one overweight, over-tanned group to the next looking for actual Florida residents. We were told that “Florida residents don’t come to the beach,” and that “No one actually lives in Florida.”
When we arrived at the Rosen Centre, headquarters of Gingrich's Florida campaign, it was mostly journalists taking photos of each other and tweeting. By the time the polls closed, supporters began to shuffle onto the risers behind the podium. The choice of music went from surprisingly celebratory to downright weird. Who knew Newt was such a Duck Sauce fan? The former speaker was introduced by Richard Crotty, the former mayor of Orange County, who told us that “money is the mother's milk of politics and when you get outspent 17 million to five million in a state with a lot of media markets, where advertising is very expensive and the bulk of those ads are attack type ads, it's hard to pull off a win. And I think that's what we've seen here tonight.”
Supporters waved “46 More States to Go” signs and seemed anything but somber. Newt was positioning himself as the little guy, the former lobbyist who, on your behalf, would be pissed about the influence of money in politics. And amongst his committed supporters, it was a line that resonated. "I think he's the best guy,” says Orlando-born Newt supporter Carol McCall. “And Romney's trying to buy the presidency."
Photos by Elizabeth Gorman