Ed’s reporting that Mitt’s ‘surprisingly’ agreed to the Florida debates:

Mitt Romney may not look inevitable after tonight’s South Carolina primary results — and that’s why this decision was, well, inevitable:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) said during a visit to campaign headquarters here Saturday morning that he will participate in the debate scheduled for Monday in Tampa.

His chief strategist, Stuart Stevens, told reporters Romney would also participate in Thursday’s debate in Jacksonville.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be doing the debate on Monday,” Romney said in response to a reporter’s question as he worked the phones calling voters at his Greenville headquarters. “Yeah, I’m in.”

I predicted in this post that Mitt would participate in the Florida debates:

I won’t take Mr. Stevens’ comments seriously. Mitt will participate because to not participate will make him look like a wimp. Substantive accusations would fly that Mitt couldn’t stand the heat so he’s abandoned the kitchen.

It’s easy picturing Winning the Future buying ad time in Florida for an ad showing an empty podium with Mitt’s name on it, followed by video of a beaming Mitt talking about having broad shoulders. That type of ad would be devastating. Mitt’s inevitability factor would instantly plummet.

Skipping Florida’s debates was never a plausible option for Mitt Romney. Not participating in the debates would’ve been seen as wimpy. Having Campaign Manager Eric Fehrnstrom whine about how the debates had turned into “bash Mitt exercises” is another sign of weakness.

The campaign’s wearing on Mitt and Mitt’s team. It’s something that I’ll track for the next 3 weeks.

To be fair, Mitt has a significant advantage in Florida because of early voting. Having alot of people vote for a candidate when he’s peaking is alot smarter than voting for him when he’s cratering.

That said, winning Florida now isn’t the big delegate cache that it would’ve been had it held when it was initially scheduled.

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