Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just a few weeks ago, Mitt Romney looked like he was going to lose the Iowa caucuses and couldn’t withstand a quick surge in December from Newt Gingrich.
But now, with the Florida primary just days away, thanks to some deep pockets, Romney is poised to capture the Florida vote comfortably over Gingrich.
Florida’s election in many ways is mirroring Iowa’s race.
Romney unleashed millions of dollars in attack ads against Gingrich and quickly began wearing down Gingrich’s lead.
By the time the Iowa caucuses were held, Gingrich could barely muster much of a turnout at all.
Early last week, Gingrich had all of the momentum coming off an easy win in South Carolina over Romney.
But, Romney’s deep pockets, along with the deeper pockets of Super PAC’s that support Romney, the airwaves have been filled with ads against the former Speaker of the House.
Romney has a 3-1 advantage in money spent on television advertising leading up to the Florida primary.
Plus, he likely capitalized on earlier leads in absentee ballots and early voting across the Sunshine State.
According to records released to the Associated Press, Romney had spent $2.8 million in television commercials just this week in Florida.
In addition, the Super PAC “Restore Our Future,” which is backing Romney, has spent $4.8 million on advertising.
Meanwhile, Gingrich has spent roughly $700,000 and a Super PAC backing him called “Winning Our Future” has chipped in an additional $1.5 million.
Gingrich had a series of missteps during the week, from a poor debate performance to making a claim that his administration would establish a base on the moon in just eight years. His poor debate performances appear to have hit him the hardest.
In South Carolina debates, Gingrich performed exceptionally well and made up ground against the better-funded Romney.
But, Romney hired a new debate coach and came out swinging in Thursday night’s debate and wound up stemming Gingrich’s tide.
While it is essentially a two-man race between Romney and Gingrich, there are two other candidates, Representative Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
Neither have been polling in double-digits in recent polls, but Santorum can cost Gingrich enough votes to keep him from winning the state.