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Gaining In The Polls, Gingrich Swings Through South Florida

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Newt Gingrich Campaigns In Naples (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Newt Gingrich Campaigns In Naples (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Buoyed by rising poll numbers and his impressive South Carolina showing, Newt Gingrich made a swing through South Florida on Wednesday to rally support before Florida’s January 31st primary.

At 9:30 a.m., Gingrich, along with his presidential primary opponent Mitt Romney, took part in a “Meet the Candidates” forum co-sponsored by Miami Dade College and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where they were interviewed by Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.  Since they were interviewed separately, the event is technically not a debate.

At 10 a.m. Gingrich spoke about Latin American Policy at Florida International University.

WEB EXTRA: Newt Gingrich Speech At FIU

“The people of the U.S. want Latin America to be a prosperous and successful region and that we are prepared to help people work and live in safety within the rule of law,” Gingrich said at FIU. “Now, I think the president has been exactly going in the wrong direction in Cuba. I believe we need to take a very clear position that over 50 years of dictatorship is enough.”

After the speech, he headed to Coral Springs to attend a “grassroots meet and greet” event at the Wings Plus on Sample Road. It’s the same restaurant where Rick Santorum appeared on Sunday.

WEB EXTRA: Newt Gingrich Speech At Wings Plus In Coral Springs

Wednesday afternoon and evening he’s scheduled to make two appearance in Cocoa.

In a new poll, Gingrich has gained ground and is now in a statistical dead heat with Romney.

In the latest Quinnipiac University poll of 601 Republicans Romney was favored by 36 percent of those surveyed compared to 34 percent for Gingrich. Santorum was favored by 13 percent of the voters and Ron Paul only by about 10 percent. The poll had a margin of error of four percentage points.

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.

Tuesday evening Gingrich was in Naples for another event.

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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