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Gingrich Barnstorming Florida Ahead Of Primary

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Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (C) speaks at his party on primary night as his wife Callista Gingrich (R) looks on January 10, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire.  According to early results, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished first in the state's primary election. Romney has led a field of six GOP candidates in the polls by double digits going into to the primary, a second important test for presidential hopefuls. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (C) speaks at his party on primary night as his wife Callista Gingrich (R) looks on January 10, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. According to early results, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished first in the state’s primary election. Romney has led a field of six GOP candidates in the polls by double digits going into to the primary, a second important test for presidential hopefuls. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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NAPLES, Fla. (CBSMiami) – Buoyed by rising poll numbers and his impressive South Carolina showing, Newt Gingrich continued his push towards winning the Sunshine State during several Tuesday events.

Gingrich has gone from being an afterthought coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire, to the presumptive front-runner in Florida and across the nation.

Gingrich’s most recent poll numbers in Florida showed him with a 5 point lead over Mitt Romney in the race for the GOP nomination.

Tuesday, Gingrich began his day in St. Petersburg where he made his first stop of the day at the Tick-Tock Diner. According to CBS4’s Kara Kostanich, who was with the campaign throughout Tuesday, Gingrich spoke to several hundred people at the diner.

Former Florida attorney general Bill McCollum introduced Gingrich to the St. Petersburg crowd where the former Speaker of the House reiterated his campaign pledges to work on the economy by creating jobs and reaffirmed his commitment to balancing the federal budget.

After leaving St. Petersburg, Gingrich and his campaign headed to Sarasota where he spoke with up to a few thousand people at an airport hangar.

Kostanich spoke to several audience members who remain undecided with just one week to go in the Florida GOP primary.

Several voters told CBS4 they simply wanted to come and hear what Gingrich had to say as they try to narrow down their choices ahead of primary day.

All of it is giving credence to the most recent poll numbers that show the Florida GOP vote is starting to shift from solidly behind Romney to solidly behind Gingrich.

But, given the unpredictability of the GOP race so far, nothing is set in stone with a week to go in the Florida primary fight.

Gingrich was moving on to Naples, Florida for another event this evening.

Gingrich’s campaign gave little access to the local and national media blitz that was constantly following the former Speaker throughout the day.

He also didn’t hold question and answer sessions with local citizens, but people still came out with the single goal of listening to his positions.

Mitt Romney didn’t have nearly as good a day Tuesday as Gingrich. Romney released his tax returns on Tuesday and it showed that he is far beyond the richest one percent in the country.

While Romney is hoping to blunt some of the criticism over his wealth, the release of the returns hasn’t helped so far.

Romney pays the lowest effective federal tax rate of candidates, with the exception of John Kerry. Romney paid an effective 13.9 percent federal tax rate, for comparison purposes, John McCain and Barack Obama both paid rates between 27.9 percent and 33.8 percent.

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