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Gingrich loses steam as Romney holds strong in Florida

January 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Florida GOP primary is just hours away and Monday afternoon polls showed Mitt Romney with a double-digit lead. But chief rival Newt Gingrich says he's closing the gap. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are also vowing to fight on.

See full coverage of the 2012 presidential election on OTUS News, by ABC News

Florida is certainly the biggest, most diverse and possibly most important state yet in the nominating contest. In these final hours, two storylines are developing: Newt Gingrich is looking increasingly frustrated and Mitt Romney is looking increasingly confident.

Romney was so relaxed Monday night, he sang "America the Beautiful" and didn't even mention Gingrich at his final Florida event.

The latest Eyewitness News/Survey USA poll backs up Romney's optimism. He's up 15 points on Gingrich in Florida.

In December, Gingrich led by 22 points, and just nine days ago, Gingrich blew out Romney in South Carolina.

"In South Carolina, the crowds were good, but you could sense it wasn't going our way. Here, the crowds are good and you can sense its coming our way," Romney said Monday.

A key to Romney's comeback? A bombardment of negative ads. In the past week alone, Romney and his allies spent nearly $14 million on attack ads in Florida. That's almost four times what Gingrich and his allies spent.

"Frankly, if all this stuff was true, I wouldn't vote for myself," said Gingrich.

Gingrich may not have Romney's money, but he's relentlessly taking him on.

"I have never seen a candidate for president that methodically dishonest," said Gingrich.

"It's sad, he's been flailing around a bit, trying to go after me for one thing or the other, you just watch it and you shake your head. It's been kind of painfully revealing," said Romney.

Gingrich says win or lose Tuesday, he'll keep fighting until the Republican National Convention.

"That's usually an indication that you think you're going to lose," said Romney.

As for Paul and Santorum, they were not even campaigning in Florida Monday night, but were in other states where they think they have a better shot.

Santorum is back on the trail after taking a few days off to deal with a health scare for his young daughter. The good news, he says, is that she's feeling a lot better.