Port St. Lucie, Fla. -- Whether or not he wins Florida, Newt Gingrich says, "I will go all the way to the convention. I expect to win the nomination."
Mitt Romney's surrogates have been appearing at every one of Newt Gingrich's rallies in the Sunshine State, but the tactic hasn't seemed to draw much reaction from the former House speaker, who on Saturday turned most of his attention to President Obama on the stump. He focused on three things "that matter to Florida ... jobs, housing, and space."
Hundreds of supporters gathered on the well-manicured lawns of the PGA museum here to listen to Gingrich, waving miniature flags and squinting in the sunlight as the candidate walked onto a stage that had been decorated with red, white, and blue bunting.
"People ask me what can we do about getting more jobs in America? And the answer is: defeat Barack Obama!" Gingrich began. "People say what can we do about housing foreclosure problem in Florida? The answer is defeat Barack Obama! People ask about the price of gasoline and the answer is: defeat Barack Obama!"
"It's amazing, at every single step, the answer is." Gingrich paused. The crowd happily repeated along with him: "Defeat Barack Obama!"
"It's a free country," Gingrich said when asked by reporters about the presence of Romney endorsers at his events. Minutes earlier, Reps. Connie Mack and Charlie Bass were mixing with journalists and trashing his electability on behalf of Mitt Romney while Gingrich was making his speech. Pressed for more analysis, Gingrich said, "The term desperation comes to mind."
"I think it's a fair match, they send a member of Congress, we send R.C.," Gingrich said casually, referring to his spokesperson who has been regularly turning red in anger confronting the surrogates. "It's a slight overmatch -- R.C.'s a little bit more informed than they are, but nonetheless, it's fine with me, (Romney) can send as many members as he wants."
Still, Gingrich couldn't resist squeezing a few jabs against the former Massachusetts governor on stage.
"Let's look at Romney briefly and Obama a little longer," Gingrich said at the rally as he compared his jobs record with that of his opponents. "All I'll say about Governor Romney is - while he was governor, he raised taxes, he imposed Romneycare, the state of Massachusetts was third from the bottom in job creation, not particularly a strong base to debate jobs with Obama. And now we have Obama, a man who has more methodically killed jobs than any president in modern times."