"Romney flexing his strength in Florida" January 30, 2012|By Michael Levenson and Matt Viser
HIALEAH, Fla. - Mitt Romney barreled through South Florida yesterday, bolstered by impressive poll numbers and a strengthening sense he will withstand a backlash from conservatives and Tea Party supporters to win the important Florida primary tomorrow.
Polls indicated that Romney has increased his lead in Florida to double digits, despite rival Newt Gingrich’s last-minute assists from former candidate Herman Cain and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Just days ago the race was considered a dead heat; Romney’s surge follows his recent shift in strategy toward personally attacking Gingrich and calling in a roster of establishment figures to rattle his rival.
Yesterday, an increasingly confident Romney openly mocked Gingrich, saying he saw him on television “describing his excuses, and why he wasn’t doing so well here in Florida.’’
"Mitt Romney would get major boost from win today in Florida" by Michael Levenson and Matt Viser | Globe Staff, January 31, 2012
DUNEDIN, Fla. - A confident Mitt Romney switched from scorn to pity yesterday, telling voters it was pathetic to see Newt Gingrich on the verge of a humiliating loss in today’s Florida primary. Voters began heading to the polls at 7 a.m. today.
“It’s sad,’’ Romney told a crowd of hundreds gathered under a relentless sun in a park in this coastal city 25 miles west of Tampa. “He’s been flailing around a bit trying to go after me for one thing or the other. You just watch it and you shake your head. It’s been kind of painfully revealing to watch.’’
Vastly outspent and buried under an avalanche of attack ads, Gingrich denounced Romney as a truth-twisting liberal as he sought to rally conservatives and Tea Party supporters in his final appeal to Florida voters.
“With your help, we’re going to win a great victory tomorrow,’’ Gingrich told a small but boisterous crowd in a Tampa airport hangar. “And when we win a great victory tomorrow, we’ll have sent a signal to [the liberal billionaire] George Soros, to Goldman Sachs, and to the entire New York and Washington establishment: Money power can’t buy people power.’’
But Gingrich’s prospects do not look bright.
A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday showed Romney with a 14-point lead in Florida, up from 9 points three days earlier. Romney had the support of 43 percent of the state’s likely Republican voters, to Gingrich’s 29 percent, while Ron Paul and Rick Santorum had 11 percent each, the poll found. Only 7 percent were undecided, although 24 percent said they could change their minds.
The survey also indicated that Romney has wooed a broad swath of the Republican electorate, including groups that had been cool to him. According to the poll, he now leads Gingrich among conservatives, white evangelical Christians, and Tea Party movement members.
A win today would give Romney a major boost as the race scatters to the seven states that vote over the next month. Florida’s haul - 50 winner-take-all delegates - is more than any candidate has accumulated in the first three contests....
Also see: Fight For Florida
Update: Romney wins Florida