It looks like Newt is winning the enthusiasm battle in Florida so far. Fortunately for Romney, he has six days to reverse the tide. Is that enough time?
If former Florida frontrunner Mitt Romney hoped Newt Gingrich's rise in popularity was a temporary blip, Gingrich's campaign appeared to prove otherwise Tuesday as it drew crowds estimated at 4,000 in Sarasota and 6,000 in Naples.Read the article
The size of the early afternoon rally at a hangar at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport surprised even Gingrich. "When they told me how big the crowd was, I was stunned," he said.
Then came the rock star treatment at an evening event at Cambier Park in Historic Old Naples, where the throng screamed with excitement as he spoke from under a bandshell with the American flag behind him and converged on him when he was finished, forcing him to squeeze his way back to his bus.
Romney, meanwhile, slammed the former U.S. Speaker of the House during one of his two appearances Tuesday -- to a crowd of about 250 people in front of a foreclosed home in Lehigh Acres.
Rick Santorum, the third candidate actively campaigning in the state, made stops in Okeechobee, Stuart and Punta Gorda, where he attracted crowds of 200 to 400 people. The fourth candidate, Ron Paul, has no events scheduled in Florida other than a CNN debate Thursday in Jacksonville.
Santorum frequently blamed his smaller crowds and low poll numbers on a media that he said was trying to make the Florida primary a two man race between Gingrich and Romney.
"The national media have propped up, as they have in the past, with two candidates for your choosing," he said at a tea party rally in Stuart that drew more than 200 people. "It's always two candidates they feel comfortable promoting. When you're here in Florida, you speak loudly in election time."