Three states. Three winners. A divided delegate count. If there is any clarity in the unpredictable, captivating turns of the Republican presidential race, it is this: Anything can happen and Florida, which is next to vote, is wide open.
Newt Gingrich will drop into to Tampa on Monday afternoon for a rally with all the energy and media glare from his overwhelming win in South Carolina. That night, also in Tampa, he and his rivals will appear in another nationally televised debate, a forum he used masterfully to win South Carolina voters.
"Whether it's a ball game or a political race, momentum counts. And Gingrich has it," said Florida state Sen. Mike Bennett, a Republican who is not affiliated with a candidate.
Gingrich's resurrection comes as the Republican field has narrowed, allowing him to round up conservative voters eager to settle on a candidate other than Mitt Romney, whom Gingrich has pounded relentlessly as a "moderate."
Then again, Gingrich could squander it all, as he has before in the lead position. With nine days before primary day here on Jan. 31, his surge will be met with negative ads and heightened media scrutiny.
Romney plans to press his organizational advantages in a state that only a couple of weeks ago appeared to be the place where he could wrap up the nomination. "I am confident our organization and our early advertising here will more than compensate for that momentum boost," said Brett Doster, a top Romney strategist in the state.
Romney, who stumbled over questions about his wealth and taxes last week, wants to refocus his campaign on the economy. He has a roundtable discussion on housing issues in Tampa at 8 a.m. Monday.
More from Alex Leary here.