With his campaign back on cruise control, a confident Mitt Romney appeared ready to capture the Florida GOP primary Tuesday, collected the state’s winner-take-all delegates and re-assume control of the the wild and woolly Republican contest for the right to challenge Barack Obama in November.
A floundering Newt Gingrich tried to score political points with Florida’s larges contingent of Jewish voters by concentrating on an old Romney decision to block state funding of kosher meals for the elderly while governor of Massachusetts but polls going into the primary showed the former Speaker lagging far behind.
Reuters/Ipso showed Romney leading with 43 percent, 15 points over Gingrich, whose support slid four percentage points over the weekend.
“Gingrich continues to lose support,” Ipsos public affairs research director said.
Gingrich needs a win in Florida to prove his upset in South Carolina wasn’t a fluke. If the pre-primary polls are right, he won’t even come close.
“After South Carolina, Newt had the momentum. That has now slogged to a strop,” GOP strategist Jennifer Logan told Capitol Hill Blue. “If anything the Speaker is running in reverse.”
Gingrich, battered by a tsunami of television ads highlighting his many ethical problem, claims Romney’s TV blitz spread “a negative campaign of lies,” but the former Speaker has a colorful, controversial and sordid past marked by adultery, bitter ex-wives, ethical lapses, fines and censure for breaking the rules of Congress.
“Gingrich is scum,” declared Florida GOP voter Allen Markowitz. “I’d vote for the devil himself over Newt.”
After Florida, Gingrich is headed for more trouble. The campaign heads into states where Romney has strength, money and organization.