MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After more than a week of GOP rallies across state along negative campaign ads on the radio and television, Florida’s Primary has finally arrived.
Republican voters across the state will cast their ballots Tuesday to see who will get the state’s 50 delegates for the GOP presidential nomination.
In the latest Rasmussen telephone poll, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (44 percent) was up by 16 points over his closest rival – former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (28 percent). Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, who have not been in Florida for several days, rounded out the field.
On Tuesday, Gingrich is scheduled to make four separate campaign stops in and around the Orlando area. Romney, who is in Tampa, has only one scheduled appearance.
On Monday at The Villages, a sprawling retirement community outside of Orlando, Romney said it’s time for a change if you want change.
“People realize if they want to see change in Washington, you just can’t elect the same people to take different chairs. You actually have to have new people come in and take over,” said Romney.
Romney is looking forward to a big win in Florida after Gingrich ran away with South Carolina.
“In South Carolina the crowds were great but you could sense it wasn’t going our way. Here the crowds are great and you can tell things are going our way,” said Romney.
Though down in the polls, Gingrich hopes he’ll be the one celebrating when the final tallies are reached. Monday night he rallied a crowd in Orlando. Earlier in the day he got a hand from Michael Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reason, and former candidate Herman Cain. Both of his daughters have also hit the campaign trail.
“He may not do supremely well. But he’s a fighter. He’s going continue and that’s what the American people should know,” said Gingrich’s daughter Kathy Lubbers, who lives on Key Biscayne.
Romney has vowed to stay in the fight until the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August. Before that, however, he has to face a number of other contests including Super Tuesday on March 6th when ten states hold their primaries.
Florida’s GOP Primary has generated tremendous voter turnout before Tuesday’s election day. In Broward, more than 32-thousand people have voted early or by absentee ballot. Nearly 89-thousand have already cast their ballots in Miami-Dade. Statewide, more than 635,000 Floridians had already voted as of Monday. That’s more than the total vote in the South Carolina Primary.