Nightly News   |  January 29, 2012

Romney-Gingrich war heats up

NBC News' Political Director Chuck Todd discusses the increasingly heated exchange between the two GOP front runners ahead of the Florida primary.

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

>> our political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd joins me from our washington news room. it seems gingrich and romney see the path to the nomination is on this question of elect ability. who can face down barack obama in the general election . is that's what's driving this increasingly heated rhetoric we're hearing?

>> it seems to be driving romney 's numbers up. the number one issue, quality in our poll, elect ability. romney had even a bigger lead on gingrich on that one. yes, electability is driving this a little bit, particularly in florida . these big, larger states, unlike iowa and new hampshire, south carolina , where you get more of a chance to know niece candidates, in florida it's all about tv ads. that's been another advantage for romney . he's carpet-bombed the state in a way you can tell it's gotten under gingrich 's skin. the question i have, lester, what does gingrich do after florida if he indeed does lose? because there's an awful lot of space and time before he can get to a state that he has a good chance of winning.

>> we've seen the stop gingrich movement among mainline republicans. at the same time, tea party movements seem to be circling the wagons around gingrich . are we moving up to a day of reckoning in the republican party here?

>> reporter: not yet but i establishment really is nervous about this issue of romney not having more time to basically fix his general election problems. this process is not been good to him. he is upside down in his personal rating. a net negative right now. that's not good. he needs time to fuks that. gingrich clearly isn't going away. what we saw in new hampshire, sort of the revenge of the tea better and the anti-establishment, rallying around newt, don't be surprise tuesday me see that again. this thing is destined to go at least until mid-march. you've got southern primaries and gingrich is going to want to see if he can get some momentum back there and that's where i think the data party's going to try to carry him through. we'll see.

>> chuck todd in our washington