MIAMI (CBS4) – Mitt Romney is riding high in the polls and is poised for a big Florida victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
“You can sense that it’s coming our way,” Romney told reporters. The former Massachusetts governor was already looking ahead, making plans to stop in Minnesota on his way to Nevada immediately after the Fla. Primary.
Romney spent much of the morning ridiculing Newt Gingrich, his closest rival, saying “Send him to the moon!” It was Romney’s attempt to poke fun at Gingrich’s claim to build a moon colony during his term as president.
The former Massachusetts governor came into Florida licking his wounds from a big loss in the South Carolina primary. But, Romney switched his tactics and began to aggressively target Gingrich in ads and he hired a new debate coach that helped him retool his performance.
Since then, Romney has been building momentum in every poll in the state. Monday’s polls showed Romney with a lead ranging from five points to 20 points over Gingrich, and even more over Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
Gingrich aides have been asking Santorum to leave the race in hopes of solidifying the more conservative wings of the Republican Party behind the former Speaker of the House. So far, Santorum has refused to drop out and has left Florida to focus on other states.
Romney said Gingrich’s problems and comments showed a candidate in desperation mode.
“That’s usually the case when you think you’re going to lose. Everybody has a right to stay in as long as they think” they should, Romney said.
Romney’s path in Florida has taken a similar trajectory to that of his campaign in Iowa. In Iowa, Romney had to withstand a Gingrich surge to eventually tie Santorum in the state.
But, in the end, Romney was able to hold off Gingrich by throwing millions of dollars in attack ads at him in the state.
In Florida, Romney was struggling before his campaign, and a Super PAC aligned with his campaign, began flooding Florida airwaves with attack ads.
Romney has outspent Gingrich by as much as 5-1 according to some reports, and it appears it will pay off in the end.
Romney has already started advertising in Nevada, where caucuses are scheduled to take place next Saturday.
After Nevada, the next states set to cast their votes are: Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Arizona, Michigan, Washington, and then Super Tuesday on March 6, 2012.