Fading Gingrich behind in new poll, hits Romney in ad

MIAMI Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:57pm EST

Newt Gingrich speaks to supporters during a campaign event in Coral Springs, Florida January 25, 2012.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Newt Gingrich speaks to supporters during a campaign event in Coral Springs, Florida January 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Newt Gingrich struggled to regain momentum in the race for the Republican U.S. presidential nomination on Friday as another poll showed him falling behind his main rival Mitt Romney, who was seen as the winner of the final debate before the Florida primary.

The two men courted Florida's sizable Hispanic vote, many of them Cubans, with appearances on Friday at the Hispanic Leadership Network where Romney received an unusually warm reception and the reaction to Gingrich was more sedate.

Bouncing back from losing the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Romney has a 9-percentage point lead over Gingrich in Florida, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.

That margin was similar to three polls on Thursday.

Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown said Romney appeared to be pulling away in Florida, where he enjoys a financial and organizational advantage over Gingrich. Romney battered the former House of Representatives speaker in two debates this week, wounding him in the format that has helped fuel Gingrich's campaign.

"With the debates now over, Gingrich will need some other way to reverse the tide that appears to be going against him," Brown said.

Tuesday's Florida primary is the fourth contest in the state-by-state battle for the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the November 6 U.S. election.

Romney repeatedly attacked Gingrich at the Thursday debate in Florida, scoring points on immigration, candidates' finances and even lunar exploration.

"That was Romney on Red Bull," Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. "You could tell Newt was tired, he's carrying a heavy load. He was counting on pure momentum to carry him through Florida, and that momentum has stopped."

Romney, whom Gingrich has described as the most anti-immigrant candidate in the Republican race, won several standing ovations from the Hispanic crowd in Miami on Friday.

"There is a time coming soon when Cuba will be free," Romney told them, adding "America can't sit back" in dealing with the island nation off the coast of Florida.


Gingrich received a much quieter response, once again mocking Romney's call for "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants as "a fantasy. It's not a solution."

Gingrich said the concept might work for younger illegal immigrants who had been in the United States a short time, but not for older immigrants with deep family ties. They should be allowed to apply for citizenship through local councils similar to draft boards, he said.

A Florida win for Romney would put him in a strong position to capture the nomination - the primary map will tilt in his favor in February with contests in seven states where he has the potential for strong showings.

Next up on February 4 is Nevada, where Romney won with 51 percent of the vote during his failed 2008 presidential bid. On February 7 Minnesota and Colorado hold caucuses and Missouri holds a primary. Gingrich did not make the ballot in Missouri.

Four of the states with February contests - Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota - use caucus systems, which often require greater organization to rally voter turnout. That could help Romney take advantage of his superior financial and staff resources.

On February 28, Michigan and Arizona hold primaries. Romney was raised in Michigan, where his father was a governor and car executive.

A new pro-Gingrich television ad in Florida asked: "What kind of man would mislead, distort and deceive just to win an election?"

"This man would be Mitt Romney," the ad's narrator said.

Romney's camp said the sharp tone from Gingrich was a sign he was desperate to distract from his own record as House speaker, where he faced an ethics probe, and as a consultant with mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

"It is laughable to see lectures on honesty coming from a paid influence peddler who suffered an unprecedented ethics reprimand, was forced to pay a $300,000 penalty, and resigned in disgrace at the hands of his own party," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.

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Comments (6)
BobBranson wrote:
Made me think comment of the month…
Overheard at the Brew House. Four Carroll College students discussing the 2012 primary elections. “I don’t understand. There are a lot of really smart people in this country. And these are the candidates?”

Jan 27, 2012 10:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
TomMariner wrote:
See what makes the headlines? “Slams”. Conflict is evidently what gets those eyeballs and sells the Presidency like a box of detergent.

To me, this junk is blah, blah — Newt, tell me why you would be a better President of the United States. I can listen to the rest of the folks tell me why they are best and make up my own mind. Pardon me if I not only ignore any accusation you make against your fellow candidates, but figure it is a bold-faced lie and exaggeration. And … get insulted that you would think I am that stupid.

On the other hand, if I had an unbiased “truth squad” in the media, rather than a bunch of bouncing, partisan cheerleaders in pleated skirts, we might not have to have candidates viciously challenge each other. But since they lie worse than the candidates, I guess we’re left with trying to figure out who is lying more.

Jan 27, 2012 10:13am EST  --  Report as abuse
d2all wrote:
Willard (Mitt) Romney does not know what he is talking about! Exactly like Obama had stated in the State of the Union speech. Romney, hides truth, does not disclose he’s years at Bain, nor his complete tax record. What is he hiding? The facts, that he created jobs in other countries at the expense of the U.S. He did so for his own selfish profits as I am also sure he did so with subsidies from the Federal Government, which he has used for his, again self-interest. Romney like the other clowns packing the GOP clown car do not have all Americans’ interest.

The line of hate is very thin with this group, the line of divisiveness very visible and they are fools to think that the greater American public doesn’t see it. It is Un-American to demise at every turn what can benefit America. It is treasons’ to plan to kill your own soldiers in war. The GOP should take notice that the American people will see it as the same thing when you would prefer to sink and plan to sink this President at the pearl of the American people, most of which are doing the right thing, working hard, earning less to do so, paying higher tax rates the top 1 percent. And so many more trying to find jobs, work, to earn their American Dreams but it is made harder by the actions of many in the GOP.

I implore the few good men and women from this party to stand up and say I am fighting for Americans’; I am not going to Kill anymore seniors or the dreams of hard working American families. There is nothing stopping you from holding to your free speech and talking about the values you care so much for but, it cannot come at the expense of killing the dreams for so many hard working Americans.

These GOP good men and women must say I will not wear the cowardly vest of suicide bombers.

These GOP men and women are obligated to work for all Americans and if it’s their desire for them to sway many toward their heartfelt beliefs there is nothing preventing them from doing so.

Just as the greater public knows who is to blame in the shortcomings they are enduring, they too will know who to support and give credit to for their lives getting better.

Romney is not this American, not by shipping jobs overseas, not by benefiting for his own greed and purpose at the expense of the many who have protected his wealth interest. The other’s in the GOP doing the same thing, protecting the wealth interest of a few while willing and causing the denotation of anything viably good for the rest of Americans. We Americans will hold all accountable.

I am also very surprised that America does not see Romney’s service as a Bishop for the Mormon Church and the large sums of money given to this specific radical faction of a religion for the sole purpose of predicating their influences and converting Christian to their Antichristian beliefs.

If many in America were offended by the Mosque near ground zero how can they not be offended of a racial religions organization that is Antichristian and is trying to make the White House their Mecca!

I hope that all Americans vote for the greater benefit of all Americans, when they do so, these blessings casted, will return one thousand fold.

Jan 27, 2012 10:17am EST  --  Report as abuse
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