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Mitt Romney nears Florida win with cash, a steady hand

Jan 31st, 2012

An increasingly desperate Newt Gingrich turned to the adopted son of the late Ronald Reagan yesterday (Monday) in a last-ditch attempt to burnish his conservative credentials during the closing day of campaigning for the Florida primary.

As polls showed Mr Gingrich trailing Mitt Romney, his moderate rival, by as much as 14 points, the former speaker of the House of Representatives used Mike Reagan, a former radio talk show host, to help associate himself with America's 40th president, who was his ideological mentor.

"Why am I on Newt's team? Very simply, because I think I owe it to him because of what he's done for the Republican Party over the years," said Mr Reagan, who is a fringe figure in American politics.

"I am supporting you, because you have supported this conservative cause for so many years."

Mr Gingrich has been trying to energise the Republican Party's conservative base, painting Mr Romney, the establishment favourite, as a dangerous moderate in the tradition of Bob Dole and John McCain, who both failed in their respective bids for the presidency.

Mr Gingrich, who was a young Congressman during the Reagan years, said he was a "true Reagan conservative" who would reconnect with Reagan's "supply-side" economics, cutting taxes and slashing regulations to create jobs.

"Why would anyone in the establishment think that a Massachusetts moderate, who is a liberal by Republican standards - pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase, pro-gay rights - why would they think he's going to be able to debate Barack Obama?" he told an enthusiastic rally in Jacksonville.

Mr Gingrich's pitch of presenting himself as the candidate capable of drawing a sharp, conservative contrast with Mr Obama in the November election, however, does not appear to have resonated with more moderate Florida republicans.

A poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released yesterday showed Mr Romney with 43 per cent support, compared with 29 per cent for Mr Gingrich.

In a further boost for Mr Romney, a USA Today/Gallup poll put him level with Mr Obama in a general election contest, but placed Mr Gingrich 14 points adrift.

Mr Romney used the last day of campaigning to reinforce his claim that, while he was a successful businessman who could revive America's economy, Mr Gingrich was a discredited Washington insider paid by lobbyists to help destroy Florida's housing market.

"If people want to see change in Washington, you can't just let the same people take different chairs," he said.

© Copyright (c) The Daily Telegraph

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Mitt Romney nears Florida win with cash, a steady hand

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