Florida Primary 2012: Newt Gingrich needs a miracle

3:26 PM, Jan 31, 2012   |    comments
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Newt Gingrich came into the Florida Primary race with plenty of momentum after easily defeating Mitt Romney in South Carolina. But Gingrich has stumbled badly and looks like he will squander that momentum and lose Florida's primary Tuesday.

Gingrich rode the wave of several solid debate performances in the days leading up to the South Carolina primary to victory. But Mitt Romney regrouped and outdebated Gingrich in two Florida debates, which hurt Gingrich's support.

But Gingrich tried to remain on message throughout the Florida campaign.

"We need a conservative to beat Barack Obama," Gingrich said. "Only a conservative has a big enough gap between his policies and Obama's policies to win."

Outside of the debates, Gingrich has had trouble keeping up the ad wars with Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor has outspent Newt by as much 5-1 in Florida ad spending and it's evident as the airwaves are flooded with anti-Gingrich ads.

Gingrich has tried to stem the tide as best he can by barnstorming Florida and continuing to raise money through his campaign and through Super PAC's supporting his campaign.

Gingrich announced Tuesday that he raised $10 million in the last three months of 2011 and another $5 million in January.

Still, while those numbers are impressive, they badly trail Romney's reported haul of $56 million in 2011 alone.

Gingrich also stumbled while on the space coast in Florida when he said he wanted to establish a base on the moon by the end of his second-term.

Romney and his supporters like John McCain suggested instead that voters send Newt to the moon.

But Gingrich's verbal jabs have been knocking the luster off of Romney.

Gingrich has almost sounded liberal in his assertions that Romney can't relate to the average man and when has criticized Romney's ties to Bain Capital.

Gingrich has also been calling Romney a "Massachusetts liberal" and has tried with all his might to put an albatross around Romney's neck for what Gingrich called "Romneycare," which became the basis for President Obama's federal health care law which Republicans hate.

The strong Cuban-American is being courted by Gingrich who is running ads comparing the U.S. to Cuba if President Obama is re-elected.

"I very much want their vote," Gingrich said of Cuban-Americans. "I want to create jobs and I want to improve the housing situation. And I think together we can create a much more prosperous Florida, and I think we can improve the price of gasoline."

Gingrich is spending much of the day on Tuesday campaigning in Orlando, Lakeland, and Plant City, Florida.

He will end the night in Orlando, where he's expected to address his supporters sometime after 8 p.m.

Due to early and absentee votes, Gingrich will have to pull off a large upset to pick up Florida's winner-take-all delegates.

A total of 50 delegates will be awarded to the winner Tuesday night and put that candidate in the cat bird's seat heading into the next primaries and caucuses.

Gingrich has vowed to fight on until the Republican National Convention later this year.

But, he will have to increase his fundraising quickly and pull off some victories in the coming states if he wants to compete with Romney's machine for much longer.

But, Gingrich isn't worried about the polls.

"No, I think if you watch tonight, the conservative candidates are going to get far more votes than Mitt Romney," Gingrich said. "This is a long, long way from being over."

The best thing for Gingrich will be if Rick Santorum abandons his presidential bid and throws his weight behind Gingrich's campaign.

Outside of that, or a major stumble by Romney, Gingrich's campaign may effectively be over by Wednesday morning.

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