PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With just three days to go until the Florida primary, Newt Gingrich told reporters Saturday he is in this presidential race for the long haul.
“I will go all the way to the convention. I expect to win the nomination,” Gingrich told reporters following an event outside the PGA Museum. “You just had two national polls that show me ahead. Why don’t you ask Gov. Romney what he will do if he loses since he is behind in both national polls?”
The former House speaker, who convincingly won the South Carolina primary, says he will get to the GOP convention in Tampa “state-by-state.” “If we win Florida, I will be the nominee,” he also noted to the couple hundred people in the crowd.
GOP rival Mitt Romney and Gingrich are fighting it out down in the Sunshine State this week – throwing jabs at each both on their own and with surrogates.
Romney continues to call Gingrich “Goldilocks” – making fun of him for complaining about the audience at debates. Gingrich reiterates his assertion that Romney lies because the campaign is desperate, telling reporters Saturday, “You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest.”
Surrogates from the Romney campaign stand in the back of most Gingrich events to give a “rebuttal” to the press. Saturday outside the golf museum, three members of Congress – Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., and Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., – stood chatting when Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond, for the third day in a row, approached the group and began asking questions.
Gingrich told reporters curious what he thought of the way his spokesman interacts with members of Congress that it is “a free country” and sees the Romney campaign sending supporters to his events as evidence of “desperation.”
“It's a slight overmatch – R.C.'s a little bit more informed than they are, but nonetheless, it's fine with me, he [Romney] can send as many members as he wants. When he gets tired we'll bring Toby back and Toby's agreed to help R.C. take a hit,” Gingrich said. [Toby is R.C. Hammond’s dog.]
One Romney surrogate, Rep. Bass, served with Gingrich in the House back in the '90s and said voters should listen to those who worked with the Speaker.
“He is a good guy but he is not going to be president of the United States,” Bass said. “He knows it, we know it, the people of Florida will know it next Tuesday.”