Gingrich Hires Rubio Strategist as Florida State Director

December 12, 2011

By Beth Reinhard, National Journal.

Big get for surging Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in Florida: His new state director is Jose Mallea, who helped steer Marco Rubio’s come-from-behind victory in the 2010 Senate race.
The Miami-based campaign strategist has longstanding ties to powerful Republicans in the state, which will hold one of the nation’s earliest primaries on Jan. 31. 

Mallea’s move is likely to fuel speculation that Rubio will endorse Gingrich, though the freshman senator has said he would stay neutral in the primary. Gingrich and other candidates have dropped his name as a likely running mate.

Rubio had an autographed picture of Gingrich on his desk when he served in the Florida Legislature and brought it with him to Washington, Mallea said. 

“For those of us who came up in politics in the mid 1990s, he’s someone we admired,” Mallea said. “He’s so intelligent on the issues and understands where we need to go as a country.'”

Gingrich has been scrambling in recent days to build a campaign infrastructure to capitalize on his recent surge in the polls. The latest surveys show him with a double-digit lead in Florida over the longtime frontrunner, Mitt Romney.

Romney has been organizing in Florida since he first started running for president in 2007. Losing a big, battleground state like Florida could devastate Romney’s bid for the White House.

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