The conventional wisdom is that Florida's Republican primary was very important in the race. And no one on the stage with tonight's runner-up, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, looked very happy about the second-place finish. But in his concession speech, Romney stayed upbeat, and vowed to fight on.
His first words -- "Almost, but not quite" -- told the story. With 82 percent of precincts responding at the time of this post, Romney trailed the night's winner, Arizona Sen. John McCain, 36 percent to 31 percent. But after a cursory concession, Romney focused the bulk of his speech on a continuing argument to voters. He hit especially hard on a theme of a broken Washington, D.C.
"We look to Washington for leadership, but Washington has failed us," Romney said. "We've asked them to fix illegal immigration. They haven't. We've asked them to get the tax burden off our families and businesses. They haven't. We asked them to end our dependence on foreign oil. They haven't ... We asked them time and time and time again, and they just haven't gotten the job done. You see, Washington is fundamentally broken. And we're not going to change Washington by sending the same people back just to sit in different chairs. I think it's time for the politicians to leave Washington and for the citizens to take over."
Despite that theme, Romney did defend the current White House. "And let's point out, to all those who criticized President Bush, that it's thanks to him that we've been safe these last six years," he said.