Romney, Gingrich groups spend $10 million more in Florida

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:29am EST

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in front of a foreclosed home in Lehigh Acres, Florida January 24, 2012.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in front of a foreclosed home in Lehigh Acres, Florida January 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters in Florida are about to be blitzed by ads worth $10.5 million in a growing media war between Republican presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

A pro-Gingrich group called Winning Our Future is pulling out the big guns in Florida, spending $6 million on Tuesday on advertising in the state, Rick Tyler, senior adviser to the group, told Reuters.

The Super PAC group helped Gingrich's surprising jump to the front of the pack in South Carolina and on Monday received $5 million in a donation from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's wife Miriam Adelson.

A funding group supporting Romney, Restore Our Future, on Monday made a $4.5 million purchase of advertising in Florida, said spokeswoman Brittany Gross.

Totalled with the spending previously disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, that pushes $10 million in pro-Romney efforts, with just a week left until Florida primary.

Florida is expensive for political campaigns, with 10 television markets, three of them in the U.S. top 20.

In a Republican primary, candidates must also advertise in Spanish as well as English in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.

The nearly $16 million now spent in Florida is the latest indication of the unprecedented amounts of money being poured into the campaign ahead of the November 6 U.S. presidential elections, especially by political action committees.

So-called Super PACs, the legacy of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, can receive unlimited donations.

Although operating separately from the campaigns, the PACs are intimately familiar with the candidates' strategies. The PACs have become the new bullies on the block during the 2012 campaign, spending more than $31 million so far, more than half of it on negative advertising.

Romney backers at Restore Our Future have outspent all the active PACs to date, but in South Carolina, they were beaten out by Winning Our Future, whose $3.4 million barrage was largely thanks to a previous Sheldon Adelson donation of $5 million.

On Wednesday, Floridians will see the Super PAC's new ad that takes a stab at Romney as having similar beliefs to Democratic President Barack Obama on healthcare.

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