Romeny Ridicules Rival Gingrich

January 31, 2012

By Sam Youngman

(Reuters) – A confident Mitt Romney solidified his lead in Florida polls and ridiculed Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Monday, calling his opponent’s attacks “sad” and “painfully revealing” the day before the state’s crucial presidential primary.

Romney’s self-assurance was on full display during a campaign tour that felt at times like a victory lap, with the front-runner telling a crowd of about 2,000 in Dunedin, Florida: “With a turnout like this I got a feeling we might win tomorrow.”

Romney has a double-digit lead in most polls in the state. He said voters have responded to his more aggressive criticism over the past week of Gingrich’s work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, his ethics probe and his resignation as U.S. House of Representatives speaker.

“There’s no question that politics ain’t bean bags, and we have made sure that our message is out loud and clear,” Romney said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Gingrich, hit hard by the more aggressive Romney strategy, branded his rival as a party insider and elite friend of Wall Street while pledging to stay in the presidential race for the long haul no matter what the outcome in Florida.

“On big philosophical issues, he is for all practical purposes a liberal and I am a conservative and that’s what this fight is going to be about all the way to the convention,” Gingrich said of Romney on “CBS This Morning.”

Romney shrugged off the attacks, drawing cheers from the crowd when he said Gingrich was not doing too well and had been “flailing about.”

“I know, it’s sad isn’t it?” Romney said, calling it “painfully revealing” and adding: “You’ve just gotta shake your head.”

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