Republican presidential frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are careening into Tuesday’s Florida primary with the subtlety of flamethrowers and the self-restraint of sumo wrestlers at a pig picking.

Policy points have long ago been forgotten except as props in what has become a primary about character. They are now both calling each other liars. Romney says Gingrich is inventing his past as a conservative crusader as evidence of the longstanding Romney claim that the former speaker is erratic and self-serving. Gingrich says Romney is making dishonest charges as evidence of a longstanding Gingrich claim that Romney will say and do anything to win power for its own sake.

Very rough stuff, and reminiscent of the time, almost exactly four years ago that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton in Ohio uttered the now infamous words “Shame on you, Barack Obama.”

The former Massachusetts governor and the former House speaker and their allies are holding nothing back, presumably because they both know that if Romney wins in Florida, as expected, he will reassume much of his onetime aura of inevitability.

Remember that Florida has always been Romney’s firewall.

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