TAMPA, Fla. — The majority of polls released in the lead up to the Florida primary have shown Mitt Romney increasing his lead over Newt Gingrich, but during his third stop of his fly-around Florida today, Gingrich cited a days-old poll that he said had come out just hours before his speech, as showing him tied in Florida with Romney.
“Tomorrow is a really really big day, and let me just say, the polls are all over the place. We just got word of a brand new poll that came out about an hour ago that said we are now tied 35 percent,” Gingrich said, as some in the crowd started to chant, “Newt! Newt! Newt!”
The poll was actually released Friday and conducted early last week, when the margin between Gingrich and Romney was much smaller than it is one day before the primary.
A Quinnipiac poll of likely Republican voters in Florida released Monday found Romney with a 14 point lead over Gingrich, receiving 43 percent of support compared to 29 percent garnered by the former speaker.
Gingrich said the Romney campaign viewed their path victory through a plan to “destroy Gingrich,” causing them to deploy millions of dollars in advertisements on what Gingrich labeled as “falsehoods” after witnessing Gingrich’s rise in the polls and win in South Carolina.
Traveling throughout the state by plane the day before the primary, Gingrich appeared at the event in a Tampa airport hangar an hour and forty five minutes late. The airport hangar was partitioned into three areas with giant blue curtains, with the small crowd of over 200 people only filing into the center section. Some of the volunteers who spoke before Gingrich’s arrival took to the podium more than once, and at one point, a volunteer even asked people in the audience if they would like to speak about Gingrich.
Gingrich was introduced by Michael Reagan and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, who endorsed Gingrich on Saturday evening.
“The liberals, the administration, President Obama, they want you to believe the game is over. The game is just getting started,” Cain said as he tried to rev up the audience while they waited for Gingrich to conclude media interviews.
Over the past week, the crowd sizes at Gingrich’s event have vacillated. Early last week, Gingrich had more than 5,000 people at a park in Naples, but four days later, he found himself speaking to just 50 people at a Hispanic town-hall in Orlando. Gingrich’s crowd counts were back up Sunday, when thousands of senior citizens waited in the sun for the former speaker in a parking lot adjacent to a Barnes and Noble in The Villages retirement community.
But despite the low turnout at his Tampa event today, Gingrich tried to keep his supporters upbeat about his prospects in the primary, telling the audience that a win in Florida will send a message to the establishment figures and financial titans who balk at a Gingrich victory.
“With your help, we’re going to win a great victory tomorrow,” Gingrich said. “We’ll send a signal to George Soros, to Goldman Sachs and to the entire New York and Washington establishment that money power can’t buy people power.”