Week Ahead: From the Florida primary to the Superbowl


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney listens during an exchange at the Florida Republican Presidential debate January 26, 2012 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.


Paul J. Richards

BOSTON — This is the week that starts with politics and ends with the bang of the Superbowl.

At the start of the week all attention, both national and international, will be grabbed by Florida's Republican primary on Tuesday, January 31.

Yes, there are lots of primaries — 50 in all — but Florida's is noteworthy because it is the first with a large population and it is one of the classic swing states which a presidential candidate must win.

The frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, are each racing to win their second primary victory. The Florida primary will be a strategic victory for one or the other after Mitt's win in New Hampshire and Newt's victory in South Carolina.

Bruising battle will be grist for comics

The rough Florida campaign is grist for the comics' mill. As usual, Jon Stewart is LOL funny while also making serious points. Watch how he skewers Mitt Romney over his tax returns.

And to give equal time to both Republican candidates, here is how Stewart explains how Gingrich took South Carolina.

Tuesday night we'll watch the victor celebrate and the loser vow to carry on. Wednesday and Thursday the analysts will tell us what it all means.

European leaders meet on financial crisis

The summit of European Union leaders in Brussels on Monday, Jan. 30, will not be nearly so interesting, in fact it might fall into the 'dull but important category.' They will be meeting to search for effective measures to overcome the debt crisis. It is definitely important, as the health of the world economy hangs in the balance. The fate of Greece's debt crisis is expected to dominate.  

Kuwaitis go to the polls

On Thursday Feb. 2 Kuwaitis will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. It is an early election, the country's second in a three-year period, called as a result of the Arab Spring.

Street demonstrations against corruption forced the resignation of the government in November for the second time in less than a year. There are 344 candidates running for 50 seats, including 24 women. The opposition hopes to win at least 25 seats. While operating within the Constitution of Kuwait, opposition candidates and the public are demanding significant reforms, including a constitutional monarch.

Finland to elect a new president 

On Sunday Feb. 5 the voters of Finland will elect a new president in the second round of the polls and one of the two candidates is green and gay.

The first round of the presidential election was held in Finland on January 22 in which all eight political parties in parliament put forward candidates. No candidate received a majority of votes in the first round but Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition Party won the first round with 37.0 percent of the vote and will face off against Pekka Haavisto of the Green League, who got 18.8 percent of the vote. It is the first time that a Green League candidate has made the runoff ballot and to make it even more interesting, Haavisto is openly gay.

The election will bring an end to an era of Social Democratic presidents in Finland. Social Democrats have held the office for a continuous period of 30 years since 1982.

Superbowl XLVI will go to the "bark side"

But on Sunday lots of people will be getting ready for the biggest tailgate party of them all: Superbowl XLVI (that's 46 in Roman numerals).

The football game of the year will pit the New England Patriots against the New York Giants in America's heartland: Indianapolis, Indiana. Bring on the guacamole, pizza, tortilla chips, beer and bloody marys. It will be a battle of the quarterbacks: the Pats' Tom Brady versus the Giants' Eli Manning. 

Part of the Superbowl entertainment is the advertisements. The big brands roll out their biggest budget, glossiest and catchiest ads for the big game. Remember last year's Volkswagen ad showing the little kid channeling Darth Vader?

This year VW sticks with the Star Wars theme, but takes it to the dogs, a chorus of barking dogs.

They've issued this fun teaser.