“My question to Governor Romney and to Speaker Gingrich: If you believe in capitalism that much, then why did you support the bailout of Wall Street, where you had an opportunity to allow destructive capitalism to work, to allow a failure of a — of a system that needed to fail because people did things that in capitalism pay, you pay a price?”
Monday’s debate ended a day of escalating attacks by Romney and a sharp rebuttal from Gingrich.
Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum joined moderator Brian Williams for a debate in Florida on Monday night. (Jan. 23)
What each candidate said at the Florida GOP debate
When Romney demanded that Gingrich release records from his work as a consultant for Freddie Mac and other entities, as well as documents related to the ethics investigation, he warned that they could reveal “potentially wrongful activity.” But neither he nor his advisers could cite anything specific that led the candidate to make such a statement.
Gingrich, campaigning in the Tampa area, dismissed it as the sign of someone who considers his candidacy sinking fast in the aftermath of his loss in South Carolina. “It’s such baloney,” he said at a rally. “It used to be pious baloney, now it’s just desperate baloney.”
After spending all last week on the defensive, Romney hoped to turn the tables on Gingrich. His onetime momentum now gone, Romney is counting on his superior organization and financial head start to gain an edge in Florida, which will hold its primary next Tuesday.
Romney already has a head start on the airwaves. His super PAC, Restore Our Future, has spent $5 million in Florida, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And his campaign has been on the air for three weeks.
Gingrich is working overtime to catch up. On the heels of his South Carolina victory, his campaign set a goal of $1 million for an online “money bomb” but quickly raised it to $2 million over two days. And the PAC backing Gingrich, Winning Our Future, has set a goal of spending $10 million in the Florida primary.
Miriam Adelson — the wife of casino and hotel mogul Sheldon Adelson, whose $5 million donation helped make Gingrich competitive in South Carolina — has promised a Gingrich super PAC another $5 million by this week, a source close to Adelson said. The news of the Adelson donation was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun.
Staff writers Amy Gardner and James V. Grimaldi in Washington and Nia-Malika Henderson and Philip Rucker in Tampa contributed to this report.