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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Florida Primary Results 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. — Trounced in Florida, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday used the defeat to declare that he alone is the conservative alternative to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.
Gingrich ignored the fact that the other two candidates in the race – Ron Paul and Rick Santorum – chose not to run aggressive campaigns in the state.
"It is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader, Newt Gingrich, and the Massachusetts moderate, and the voters of Florida made that clear," Gingrich said following returns that showed him trailing Romney badly.
Gingrich's defiant pledge to continue on against Romney sets the stage for a bitter brawl for the Republican nomination that could last for months. Gingrich supporters Tuesday night hoisted signs that read "46 States to Go."
It was a message, the former House speaker said, to those eager to write his political obituary.
"I just want to reassure everyone, we are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August," he said.
Signs pointed to an uphill fight. Gingrich spoke to a half-empty hotel balloon in Orlando where reporters appeared to outnumber supporters. It was a turnabout for a candidate who just 10 days ago bounded to a decisive comeback victory in South Carolina. Gingrich arrived in Florida to huge crowds and a lead in the polls. But a pair of lackluster debate performances a bruising advertising assault by Romney took their toll.
Gingrich never mentioned Romney by name Tuesday night and offered the winner of Florida's primary no words of congratulation.
The two have been locked in an increasingly vicious fight for the Republican nod with Gingrich calling Romney dishonest and his campaign "pathetic." Romney took off the gloves against Gingrich in Florida, assailing his work for Freddie Mac in a state hit hard by the housing bust. He also questioned Gingrich ties to President Ronald Reagan, which left the former Georgia congressman visibly irked.