McConnell on Potentially Long GOP Primary: Almost LIke Obama vs. Clinton in 2008

Comparing a potentially long Republican primary to the Democratic primary of 2008, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he didn't believe an extended primary, even with all the "drama," would  harm  the Republican Party in the general election.

"It's reminiscent of the contest between Obama and Clinton on the other side in 2008," McConnell said this afternoon after the Republicans' weekly policy lunch, "Obviously, that ended at some point. …  And it didn't seem to have done them any harm in the general election, and I don't think this contest is going to do us any harm either."

The 2008 Democratic primary contest between Obama and  Clinton lasted until early June, with both candidates battling it out - primary by primary - until Clinton ended her bid after a long and at times bitter battle.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has signaled  he is digging in for the long haul, regardless of the results of tonight's Florida Republican primary, which, with a double-digit lead in some polls, former Gov. Mitt Romney is expected win.

At a visit to a polling station in Orlando,  ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Newt Gingrich how much longer the battle for the Republican nomination would go on. He said "six or eight months" and then added,  "unless Romney drops out earlier."

When asked what he says to those who say the race will effectively be over if he loses big in Florida, Gingrich said, "You mean those who said I was dead in June? Those who said I was dead in December? They are about as accurate as they were the last two times they were wrong."

Today, Republican leader McConnell said that the Republican primary race would  "end when it ends," and, ultimately, there will be a "very competitive" Republican nominee to run against President Obama.

 "I think we have an excellent chance to have a new president next year, and we're just all watching like you are the drama associated with this contest," McConnell said.