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Romney counting on Florida to win GOP nomination, White House

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney just finished up a pair of North Florida fundraisers and is on his way to Sarasota for a third.

In Tallahassee, we're told he veered into some talk about the political chessboard during his private event at the Governor's Club.

Romney said after airing ads in Iowa for nearly an entire year during the 2008 campaign, he has not run any spots to date. Romney told the crowd his campaign calculus was that he could spend nothing and come in fourth or spend a bit and finish second or third. He guessed that Republicans could split the first three events, which would make Florida particularly important.

Romney predicted a Tea Party favorite would win Iowa and that he would take New Hampshire, according to interviews with six people in the audience. Romney told the crowd he would seal the nomination by then winning Florida's Republican contest.

"Clearly they are competitive in Iowa, but you never know how it's going to come out there," said Rep. Will Weatherford who hosted simultaneous fundraisers in the same building today for Romney and Perry. (Um, that's state Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.)

Romney also looked ahead to a general election campaign against President Barack Obama, predicting that the former Massachusetts governor could win the general election if he caputures Florida, Ohio and Michigan.

Romney also said in Tallahassee that he would let states run Medicaid and criticized Obama for being the first president to "cut" Medicare. (Romney released details about his voucher-like system for Medicare on Friday.)

The crowd at the Governor's Club included state CFO Jeff Atwater, who was emcee for the event, state Sens. John Thrasher and Evelyn Lynn, state Reps. Weatherford and Pat Rooney and lobbyists from Ballard Partners and Al Cardenas' Advocacy Group, among others.

Romney was in Monticello this morning collecting money at the 16,000-acre Pickney Hill Plantation owned by state Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Dick Corbett. Romney has a third fundraiser this evening in Sarasota at the waterfront home of former FDIC Chairman Bill Isaac and his wife, Christine.

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