Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Gingrich in Tampa: Romney's 'desperate,' will say anything

Published Jan. 23, 2012


TAMPA — Riding his big win in the South Carolina primary, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told a Tampa crowd Monday that he's heard former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is stepping up his criticism of him, with more likely to come.


"I prefer personally not to believe it," Gingrich said at a rally in the parking lot of The River Church, east of Tampa. "But on the other hand, if you've been campaigning for six years, and you begin to see it slip away, you get desperate, and when you get desperate you say almost anything, and I think (at) tonight's debate he'll probably stretch the barrier."


To prepare for the debate at the University of South Florida, Gingrich said he had been memorizing old debate lines, like Ronald Reagan's "There you go again."


"I think I'll finally convince him I really am a Reaganite if I use President Reagan's line," the former House speaker said. "This is such baloney. It used to be pious baloney. Now it's just desperate baloney."


The central question in the Jan. 31 Florida primary is simple, Gingrich said.


"Who do you think has the ability to go toe-to-toe in the debates with Barack Obama?" he said.


Better than Romney, Gingrich said he can draw a distinction between himself and the president on issues like health care and foreign policy.


Gingrich's remarks were briefly interrupted by two hecklers, one who said he was no Reagan conservative.


"I'm not a Reagan conservative?" Gingrich responded. "Did you know Ronald Reagan? In 1980, I was campaigning for him, and in 1981 I helped pass his program, and so..."


At the second and third interruptions, with the crowd booing and chanting, Gingrich said it was okay.


"It is a free country, you know, and Mitt's allowed to have two people out of this number," he said.


It's got a big laugh and a big cheer, but the more vocal of the two, paralegal student Dianna Barrios, 46, of Tampa, said she was no Romney supporter, either. Rather, she wanted to challenge Gingrich on how he can appeal "to independents and moderates with his right-wing extremism."


"It's very sour and angry," said Barrios, a Democrat.


But to the vast majority of the crowd, Gingrich offered a tonic for a country gone wrong.


"As far as we're concerned, he's the last chance America has to keep from becoming a socialistic nation," said retired businessman Don Kelley, 69, of West Chase. "Without him, we don't have a hope."


Gingrich is intelligent, has an excellent grasp of the issues, and people found out who he was at the last debate when he "knocked it out of the park" in answering a question about his second wife's allegation that Gingrich wanted an open marriage, Kelley said.


"I don't think that that is an issue," Kelley said. "I'm not electing his ex-wife. I'm electing him to do a job for me. ... There are no perfect candidates out there. You're not going to find one. They've all got some kind of baggage."


Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@tampabay.com, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa, left, and Robert Luck, right, were appointed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta by President Trump. Florida Supreme Court
    Ok losers, who needs access to our state politicians, anyway?
  2. Fox News host Tucker Carlson (left) and former national security adviser John Bolton Associated Press
    Carlson said Bolton was “one of the most progressive people in the Trump administration.”
  3. A view of the student center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where opposition is mounting over a plan to consolidate USF's three campuses. Some state lawmakers are opposed to parts of it that would concentrate authority over academic decisions in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |
    They say the proposal by USF president Steve Currall conflicts with a new Florida law by giving too much authority to the Tampa campus.
  4. Wreckage left behind by Hurricane Michael. News Service of Florida
    Entire school systems are still recovering from long-standing damage and dealing with the disruptive aftermath of the storm.
  5. An aerial view of the AmericanAirlines Arena, of the Miami Heat. American is set to leave as the named sponsor by the end of 2019. DRONEBASE VIA AP
    BangBros, best known for filming sex scenes in vans, announced it had submitted a $10 million bid to replace American Airlines as title sponsor of the county-owned arena.
  6. From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. raise their hands to answer a question Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) DAVID J. PHILLIP  |  AP
    This time, the Democratic debate showed clear policy differences. But which ones were factual?
  7. An architect's rendering shows part of a planned research center and hospital on N McKinley Drive in Tampa for the Moffitt Cancer Center. During the 2020 legislative session in Tallahassee, the center will seek an increased share of Florida's cigarette tax to finance the McKinley Drive project and other improvements. Moffitt officials said Thursday that the increase initially would finance $205 million, to be paired with $332 million they have already allocated for the project. Moffitt Cancer Center
    Florida lawmakers are the key to unlocking the money, which would pay for more hospital beds and research space.
  8. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities [Special to the Times]
    Potential changes could affect virtually every client that receives services through the state’s disabilities program, to save tens of millions from the agency’s bottom line.
  9. Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa, left, and Robert Luck, right, were appointed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta by President Trump. Florida Supreme Court
    Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck have been serving on Florida’s highest court since January.
  10. From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro are introduced Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) DAVID J. PHILLIP  |  AP
    It’s the the third time the Democratic presidential candidates met to debate, and the first time that all three front runners, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, shared the same stage.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement