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Romney's taxes, SOTU and the war on Newt

The GOP primary season continues this week with another rebound for Newt Gingrich, the release of Mitt Romney's tax returns and the final State of the Union
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich duke it out at the NBC News Republican debate in Tampa, Florida on Monday.
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich duke it out at the NBC News Republican debate in Tampa, Florida on Monday.

The GOP primary season continues this week with another rebound for Newt Gingrich, the release of Mitt Romney's tax returns and the final State of the Union address before this fall's presidential election. Check out The Last Word's week in review.

Newt Gingrich wins South Carolina primaryThe former speaker didn't just beat Mitt Romney last Saturday night, he crushed him. As soon as the polls closed last Saturday NBC News, and other organizations immediately declared Newt the winner in a decisive victory with 40% to Mitt Romney's 27.8%. Newt staked his entire campaign on South Carolina, and the gamble paid off big time. He now enters the Florida primary with new momentum and another $5 million donation to his super PAC, "Winning Our Future" by the wife of Sheldon Adelson. In fact, Gingrich's star has risen so quickly that Conan didn't have time to find a Newt impersonator.

The war on NewtComing out of South Carolina with a huge victory (and delegates) under his belt, it appears that Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who was run out of town by his own party, may actually have a chance to become the GOP nominee. That's why we've seen conservative talking heads and members of congress going after Gingrich this week. While Gingrich has been toning it down at his recent debate performances, Ann Coulter said this week that this election would be a landslide victory for President Obama if Newt became the nominee. Not only that, Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on Newt to take down an anti-Romney attack from his website that he labeled as untrue. Gingrich's recent comments on building a base on the moon by the end of his second term haven't done him any favors with Mitt Romney who has accused him of saying whatever he thinks the people in Florida want to hear. 

P.S. Rcik Santorum and Ron Paul are still in the raceRemember Rick Santorum? The unfortunately named, sweater vest-wearing candidate who ended up winning Iowa after a recount? He's still in the race despite his lost momentum and depleted funds. But, that doesn't mean he didn't make any headlines this week. On the contrary, the former Pennsylvania senator could be seen on the campaign trail talking about how colleges purge most students of their faith a few days after failing to correct a voter about President Obama's heritage. And despite his fourth place finish in South Carolina, Ron Paul pressed on, deflecting questions about his rivals and breaking with his party on his policy toward Fidel Castro.

Mitt Romney releases tax returnsAfter months of saying he had no plans to release his tax returns, and then pivoting to say that he would release them in April, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney caved to the political pressure and released his 2010 tax returns. His tax records show a number of things, including the fact that he pays an extremely low 14% tax rate. The documents released also show that Romney keeps some of his money in the Caymen Islands and a Swiss bank account. The mounting pressure on Romney (mostly from Newt Gingrich who released his own contract with Freddie Mac this week) to release his tax information came to a head before the South Carolina primary. Mittens finally agreed to release the information to the public on Tuesday — the day of President Obama's State of the Union address. Critics of the former Massachusetts governor point out that by releasing his returns on the day of a major national news story, it makes it look as if Mitt thought he could bury the story. Unfortunately for him, with that low tax rate, the offshore accounts and the timing of the release have only added fuel to the fire of tax reform.

President Obama delivers his third State of the Union addressState of the Unions are supposed to be speeches about what the president wants accomplished in the coming year. However, woven into the hopeful rhetoric are usually heavy political undertones pointed at the president's rival party on issues that he was unable to tackle for various reasons. In his last State of the Union before the election, President Obama made appeals for compromise in this era of partison bickering, while at the same time taking not so subtle jabs at his likely Republican rival, Mitt Romney.  The President made the case for his "fairness doctrine," saying Warren Buffett should pay the same tax rate as his secretary, who was in attendance for the SOTU speech. The topic of fairness on taxes comes on the very day that Romney was forced, politically, to release his tax returns. 

Mitch Daniels to the GOP's rescue?After Bobby Jindal's awkward response three years ago, and Michele Bachmann's tea party response last year, the Republican party decided to go with a safe choice to deliver the annual response to President Obama's address. Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, once considered a possibility to join the presidential race, gave a low-key address to the nation that involved opening with praise for Obama on killing Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders before launching into a full rebuke of the president's economic policies. His calm demeanor, and his ability to look into the camera, have made some in the Republican establishment wondering whyhe isn't running for president this year. 

Florida PrimaryAfter Gingrich's double digit victory in South Carolina, Mitt Romney has to win if he wants to stop Newt's moment. After a strong debate performance last night, the Romney camp is hoping the former Massachusetts Governor can win his second primary. msnbc's coverage of the Florida Republican primary race begins Tuesday at 6pm ET.