As Florida Republican voters head to the polls, Newt Gingrich is already playing defense and lowering expectations while vowing to fight on against Mitt Romney.
Though he cited recent surveys showing him in the hunt in today's primary and said “I think we absolutely can win,” Gingrich seemed resigned to defeat.
He made reference to Romney’s well-financed barrage of attack ads that have blanketed the airwaves and said that Mitt is running “pathetic” campaign.
“You want to know where all the ads came from that you’ve been watching for the last few weeks? That’s your money recycled through Goldman Sachs to Mitt Romney to tell you a bunch of falsehoods, and I don’t use that word lightly,” he said.
“I don’t think you should run for president unless you tell the truth.”
Gingrich noted that the Wall Street Journal and National Review described Romney’s ads against him as false, and questioned the former governor’s character.
“What a pathetic situation to be running for President of the United States ... with nothing positive to say for yourself,” he said. “All you’ve got to do is to try to tear your opponents down so they get to be smaller than you are. That’s the Romney model.”Still, Newt appears to be missing a bit of the energetic punch that placed an exclamation point on his rallies following his win in South Carolina 10 days ago.
Despite an electoral map that may become even more challenging for him after the Florida primary, though, Gingrich appears to be in no hurry to quit.
After vowing over the weekend to continue his campaign until the Republican convention in Tampa, he's upped his criticism of Romney if anything.
“I’m a genuine conservative, and I actually study these things,” Gingrich said in Fort Myers. “I’m going to be upfront. I’m not a manager, I’m a leader.”
The campaign of Ron Paul has also said it aims to press on long enough to amass a stable of delegates to require some negotiation during the convention.
Both candidates hope, if they cannot win themselves, to prevent Romney from winning a majority of delegates - forcing the convention to pick a nominee.
The idea of a brokered convention remains a remote possibility, and whether Gingrich and Paul can actually make good on their goals is unclear.
Still, don't expect this presidential nomination fight to end with a Romney coronation today, despite what certain media outlets will have you believe.