Nightly News   |  January 19, 2012

Mitt Romney: truly the ‘inevitable’ frontrunner?

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd and David Gregory weigh in on the latest political headlines.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> further get our arms around all the things that happened today, as you see, andrea mitchell , david gregory and chuck todd . andrea, we'll start with you specifically on newt gingrich . two sets of judgments going on. the individual voters in places like south carolina and the party structure, as well.

>> exactly. that's the difference newt gingrich has all the momentum in south carolina , assuming a good debate performance going into the final day. party leaders tell me tonight that even if he were to win south carolina , that mitt romney is more than a 90% lock to win florida and has the organizational strength and money going forward. they also say there are concerns among national party leaders, not necessarily in romney's camp, but people who feel newt gingrich does not have executive skills or discipline to be the nominee because he has too much baggage going down the road. today mike huckabee issued a statement saying that he does not agree with a web ad , a newt gingrich web ad which cites huckabee endorsing him from 2008 . he says he does not intend to endorse and haley barbour who has been controversial this week and last week because of the mississippi pardons, but is a major leader in the republican party said a gingrich victory could cost them the republican house.

>> david gregory , on the subject of mitt romney , what a classic pattern this has fallen into. the media using words like front-runner and presumed future nominee, and yet these stumbles along the way, not all of them his doing.

>> and that air of ininevitability may be cracking this week. reporting of him being in the top 1%. that will only intensify if he is the nominee. i talked to romney advisors. they are taking the long view. they insist style points don't matter. what could happen at the end of this week, mitt romney , as it turns out, did not win iowa. he could lose south carolina , only having new hampshire in his column. it means he is not inevitable. there is still a fight on our hands, on his hands and the rest of the field here as we move forward.

>> this iowa result does change the one-loss category. chuck todd , let's talk about the president who seems to be traveling a stop on ahead of the gop primary schedule.

>> he's got a bunch of stops next week, too. he was right here in florida in orlando. it was an "unofficial" visit to promote tourism. but his campaign, this is what makes this day amazing, another big story today was his campaign went up with their first ad and it was not a "morning in america" ad, that things are great, it was a defensive ad, a response ad to an outside group hitting the president on those cylindra bankruptcy. the message is this will be a long, rough, tough campaign.

>> chuck todd , david gregory , andrea mitchell , all part of our team covering our lead story tonight. thanks to all.