“The inevitability of Romney has now been wiped away,” Santorum said following a rally in Coral Springs. As for Gingrich, he said the former speaker was an unreliable conservative. “He didn’t live up to all the hype,” Santorum said. “It’s great to be glib. It’s better to be principled.”
Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), who will share the stage at Monday’s debate in Tampa, is bypassing the Florida primary to focus on a series of smaller February caucuses, starting in Nevada, where he has a loyal and organized following.
Gingrich’s priority, meanwhile, is converting Saturday’s momentum into financial and organizational muscle. “They’re watching the little tick-tick-tick meters on their iPhone applications,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said, referencing Gingrich’s “money bomb” fundraising campaign.
On the stump this week, Gingrich intends to talk about the federal space program, Social Security, U.S. policy toward Israel and the economy, Hammond said.
In a state with a sizable Hispanic population, Gingrich and Romney both plan extensive Latino outreach. Gingrich’s campaign has hired two former senior advisers to Sen. Marco Rubio and several other Hispanic leaders. Romney has the endorsements of three prominent Cuban-American congressmen and earlier this month began running a Spanish-language television advertisement narrated by his Spanish-speaking son, Craig.
For weeks, Romney’s campaign has been targeting the more than 450,000 Floridians who requested absentee ballots with plans to individually contact each of them at least twice. And Romney is staffing up in the states holding contests in February and March, girding for a long race to amass delegates.
“We always knew it would be a long process and the Romney campaign seems to be the only campaign prepared for that,” said former senator Norm Coleman (Minn.), a Romney supporter. “I think Mitt is going to be a stronger candidate, more battle-tested, and the party will come together in the end.”
Gingrich’s advisers tried to play down expectations in Florida, highlighting the sheer amount of money and organizing strength Romney has in the state. “It’s always good to be a little bit underestimated, and we have some strengths there that perhaps are not yet apparent,” Gingrich adviser Kevin Kellems said.
So-called “super PACs” supporting both front-runners plan aggressive television advertising campaigns. The Gingrich super PAC is expected to once again attack Romney’s work for venture capital firm Bain Capital, this time focusing on its takeover of Damon Clinical Laboratories, a company that was fined nearly $120 million amid accusations of Medicare fraud.