Gingrich was received warmly by his audiences, several of whom said in interviews that they connect more easily with the former House speaker than with Romney.
“Romney is a smart guy,” said Manuel Garcia, 75, who moved to the United States from Cuba a half-century ago and is retired from the real estate business. “He has proven that he has a lot of very good entrepreneurial activities, and he was very profitable. He has the ability to handle the economy. But it looks to me that he doesn’t have the aggressivity that Gingrich has. We need someone to beat Obama.”
New ad in Florida from Winning Our Future, a super PAC supporting former House speaker Newt Gingrich, attacks former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
GOP METER: A look at how the 2012 Republican candidates for president differ on key issues.
Gingrich also may have found a new word to describe Romney: “postalita,” which one Cuban American called the former Massachusetts governor while waiting for Gingrich to begin speaking. The Spanish word means baseball trading card, but in some circles, “postalita” has come to mean a ballplayer who looks the part but doesn’t play very well. That is how David Garcia, a 27-year-old bodyguard from Miami, said he views Romney.
“He’s just a figurine,” Garcia said, “just like Obama. You see those baseball players? They look the part, but they’re the worst ones. They got the sunglasses, they got the batting gloves, they’re all clean — but you know what? They’re sitting on the bench. They can’t play.”
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, meanwhile, Obama defended his record on the economy in a campaign-style speech a day after delivering his third State of the Union address.
“Today, three years after the worst economic storm in three generations, we are making progress,” he said. “Our businesses have created more than 3 million jobs over the last 22 months. ... Our economy is getting stronger. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s getting stronger, and we’ve come way too far to turn back now.”
Taking aim at Republicans generally, Obama added: “There are people in Washington who seem to have collective amnesia. They seem to have forgotten how we got into this mess. They want to go back to the very same policies that got us into it.”
He vowed, “We’re not going to go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.”
Staff writer William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.