TAMPA, FL – Fresh off his decisive win in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich took the stage in the Sunshine State this afternoon insisting that GOP rival Mitt Romney is getting “desperate.”
“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,” Gingrich told the roughly 175 people in attendance outside The River Church. “I think at tonight’s debate he may stretch the barrier of almost anything.”
Romney began ramping up his attacks on the former House Speaker after Gingrich received 40 percent of the vote in South Carolina to Romney's 28 percent.
Walking out to Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now?” – a new addition to the usual event song list – Gingrich told the crowd that Romney’s attacks have moved beyond the “pious baloney” they were in other states.
“It used to be pious baloney; now it’s just desperate baloney,” he said, vowing to memorize lines from Reagan to help him at the debate tonight including “there you go again.”
Not everyone in the crowd was in favor of the speaker, though.
Only several minutes into his speech Gingrich was interrupted by a member of the audience, Diana Barrios, who challenged him to defend his claim that he's a "Reagan Conservative."
Barrios, along with her son, was ushered off the property by two church security guards. She told a band of reporters who followed her out that she's a supporter of President Obama's, and accused Gingrich of promoting "right-wing extremism."
“It’s a free country, Mitt’s allowed to have 2 people out of this number,” Gingrich said to cheers after the interruption and noted that it’d be great if that reflected how the Florida primary on Jan. 31st will turn out.
“Winning next Tuesday will be an enormous jump towards the nomination,” he said.