Jon Cummings spoke so quietly the crowd at Mitt Romney’s rally had to tell him to speak up. He didn’t sound like a politician. He sounded like the man who shut down a century old business in the tough economy.
“Four years ago here, we had close to 50 people working,” Cummings said. “By the time I called everyone just after Christmas to tell them we were suspending operations, we had about 24 people left.”
Speaking in front of a giant “Obama isn’t working” sign next to an industrial trash bin, Cummings said the administration’s work-place regulations bore some blame. But so did the bad economy, competition from China, rising insurance costs and changes in technology.
“I have never seen anything like the last 3 years. It’s been a crazy, crazy ride,” Cummings said. ““We chose to quit the fight.”
Romney soon spoke and said the obvious: “This is not a happy day, here, in this plant of course.”
He blamed President Obama. “It’s an indication of what’s gone wrong with this administration,” Romney said. “Jon asked, ‘how long is this going to go on?’ And the answer is: it’s going to go on until January of 2013.”
Speaking in friendly territory -- before a tea party crowd of about 500 in Central Florida's bucolic Mount Dora -- the former House Speaker savaged Mitt Romney, the campaign ads that have been pillorying Gingrich across the state -- and his own Republican party.
Gingrich wasted little time in criticizing Romney as he took to the stage with his wife, Calista, decrying the "attack ads and all sorts of junk" and charging that Romney is hypocritical for attacking him for Freddie Mac when he has stock in it.
"He thinks we're going to back down, I don't think so," he said.
"This is the desperate last stand of the old order, throwing the kitchen sink, hoping something sticks because if only they can drown us in enough mud -- raised with money from companies and people who foreclosed on Floridians," he said. He charged Romney and his super PAC ads were "paid for with the money taken from the people of Florida, by companies like Goldman Sachs."
The Romney campaign issued an all-caps email with the headline and subtitle that read: "UNHINGED: DR. NEWT AND MR. HYDE...GINGRICH LEADS “OCCUPY MOUNT DORA"
But Gingrich, who had been surging in the Florida polls, said the race is now "very close" and that he believes the "weight of the negative ads" and what he called Romney's "dishonesty," had "hurt us some."
He called on the tea partiers to start working harder. "This group alone is big enough to start to turn this around," he said, declaring he wouldn't allow the "monied interests" to defeat him.
Gingrich is clearly banking on support from Florida's tea party -- which helped elect Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in 2010 and he thanked the crowd, some of whom wore tea party t-shirts.
"I think you represent citizens who are sick and tired of being told by Washington what to do and sick and tired of watching your country decay because the power structure in Washington doesn't want to make any changes," he said. "They would rather manage the decay as long as they stay in charge. We're here to tell them that their time is over."
He accused Romney of hypocrisy, charging that Romney owns "lots of stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," "lots of stock in a Goldman Sachs unit "that was explicitly foreclosing on Floridians" and is "surrounded by lobbyists" who defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yet has built "his entire negative campaign in Florida around a series of ads that are just plain false.
"They're counting on us being too stupid or too timid," he said.
He also railed against the GOP establishment, calling it "just as much an establishment as the Democratic establishment.
"And they are just as determined to stop us," he said. "Make no bones about it, this is a campaign for the very nature of the Republican party and the very opportunity for a citizen conservatism to defeat the power of money and to prove that people matter more than money than Wall Street and people matter more than all the big companies that are pouring cash into Romney ads that are false."
He says he ran an entirely positive campaign and was "drowned in a sea of mud" in Iowa, "mud paid for with special interest money...and a candidate who is willing to say anything and do anything to be president that the truth doesn't matter."
He said the GOP can't beat Obama with a candidate "who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts.."
He charged Romney with looking to masquerade as a conservative, noting that when he was "workingwith Ronald Reagan, Romney "was a money making independent" who voted for Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas.
"The message we should give Mitt Romney is 'We aren't that stupid and you aren't that clever," he said.
He defended his work for Freddie Mac, saying the "only thing I ever did that was publicly recorded...was to tell the House Republicans to vote no, don't give them any money."
He saved a little of his pique for President Obama and Democrats saying they "either doesn't know what he's saying or they just don't care what damage they're doing to the economy."
Newt Gingrich's Space Coast speech last night about colonizing the moon isn't so new. When he was a relatively new member of Congress, in 1981, then-Rep. Gingrich sponsored the National Space and Aeronautics Policy Act of 1981
- Title I: Declaration of Policy - Establishes a comprehensive national civilian space and aeronautics policy to provide the basis for a world information system, earth orbital facilities, exploration of the solar system, and the development of other space and aeronautical activities.
Title II: National Space and Aeronautics Policy - Sets forth national space and aeronautics principles in order to achieve the peaceful expansion of space and atmospheric environments for the benefit of mankind and the nation.
Title III: Program - Directs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in cooperation with private, governmental, and international groups, to pursue aggressive research and systems development in space and aeronautics science and technology. Specifies programs and target dates for the achievement of such research and systems development.
Directs the Administrator of NASA, together with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with appropriate Federal agencies, to develop and submit to Congress a preliminary five year program including proposed annual funding requirements and a detailed research and development schedule. Requires a final five-year program, a ten-year plan, and 30-year policy goal to be submitted to Congress no later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act. Requires that status reports and revisions to the plan be submitted annually with the budget request beginning the third year after the enactment of this Act.
Title IV: Government of Space Territories - Sets forth provisions for the government of space territories, including constitutional protections, the right to self- government, and admission to statehood.
For 30 minutes Wednesday, in between campaign stops in Florida, Newt Gingrich conducted a conference call with Christian pastors from around the state and nation and used the opportunity to bash Mitt Romney's record on abortion and what he considers a "secular assault on religion."
“I think we are in a war against religion,'' Gingrich said during the call, which was openly recorded and made available to the Herald/Times. "I think the elites are bigoted secularists. I think we have judges who are dictatorial. I think we have constant pressure against religious expression.”
As he has done with pastors in other states, the former U.S. congressman used the opportunity to talk about his call for a Commission on Religious Freedom and his proposal to end "judicial activism."
At no time during the discussion did the pastors raise the issue of Mormonism, or the opinion of evangelicals of Romney's faith, but the pastors emphasized their power to move voters into Gingrich's camp.
Just a few days ago, Monday, Newt Gingrich was a Florida frontrunner in an InsiderAdvantage poll. Now he's losing.
Times-Union/InsiderAdvantage Jan. 25 Florida poll (MoE +/-$%): Mitt Romney 40%, Newt Gingrich 32%, Ron Paul 9; Rick Santorum 8. The poll shows Romney leading Gingrich among every group, including 15 percentage points among women and 32 percentage points among Hispanics.
Times-Union: The swing does not come as a shock to Matt Towery, Insider Advantage’s founder.
“Gingrich does not have the television presence, and he had a tepid debate performance,” said Towery, a Times-Union columnist who is a former Gingrich staffer.
Towery said that because debates have played such an influential role in the nominating process, tonight’s Jacksonville debate at the University of North Florida could serve as kingmaker in Florida.
“We expected Gingrich to be this great debater, and he just wasn’t [in Tampa],” Towery said. “Jacksonville will be his make or break.”
Posted by Adam C. Smith
The close, volatile Republican presidential campaign exploded in Miami on Wednesday as Newt Gingrich pulled a controversial Spanish-language immigration ad after Sen. Marco Rubio bashed it as out of bounds.
The radio ad, featuring a snippet of a Fidel Castro line, described Mitt Romney as “anti-immigrant’’ for his hardline stances, which mirror those of Rubio and many Republican leaders.
“This kind of language is more than just unfortunate. It’s inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign,’’ Rubio, who is neutral in the race, told The Miami Herald when asked about the ad. “The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant,’’ Rubio said. “Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community.’’
The unexpected criticism from the nation’s leading Hispanic Republican figure underscored the difficulties of campaigning on immigration in Miami-Dade’s Cuban exile community, which accounts for just under three-quarters of the Republican vote in the largest county of the nation’s largest swing state.
A new poll of Florida Latinos shows Gingrich losing badly to Romney. And both trail President Barack Obama by double digits, although Gingrich does worse among Hispanics against the incumbent than Romney. Two polls released Wednesday showed both essentially tied among all voters.
After Rubio’s criticism, Gingrich’s campaign said it would pull the ad out of “respect’’ for Rubio, whom both candidates would love to have as a running mate. His campaign then announced it would edit out the “anti-immigrant’’ line and re-run the ad.
Gingrich earlier defended the ad’s language in an interview with a Miami TV station. Gingrich specifically took exception with Romney’s call at a Monday debate for people to deport themselves if they’re here illegally.
“I think he’s amazingly insensitive to the realities of the immigrant community — his whole concept of self-deportation,’’ Gingrich said. “I’ve not met anyone who thinks it’s in touch with reality. People aren’t going to self-deport.’’
But his own spokesman had told a New Hampshire newspaper that, as a consequence of Gingrich’s immigration plan, “it’s likely the vast majority of them [illegal immigrants] would self-deport.’’
Romney, too, found himself the target of his own words on the Florida campaign trail, where he has attacked Gingrich as an “influence peddler’’ because he was paid as a consultant for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, implicated in the housing crash and foreclosure crisis gripping one in every 360 Florida homes.
Turns out, a few Romney campaign advisors were lobbyists for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, some of whom were paid to fight reform efforts, according to The Associated Press and the Daily Caller conservative news website.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney runs even with President Barack Obama 45 – 45 percent in Florida, while the president holds a strong 50 – 39 percent lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Today’s results compare to a 46 – 43 percent Romney lead over Obama January 11 and a 47 – 40 percent Romney lead September 22.
Newt Gingrich may have momentum, but a Suffolk University poll for WSVN-Fox 7 found he'd be a weaker contender than Mitt Romney in a general election contest against President Barack Obama.
A seperate TIME/CNN/ORC poll released today found Romney and Gingrich are locked in a virtual dead heat just days before the Jan. 31 primary.
Romney led Obama by 47 percent to 42 percent in the Suffolk poll, while Obama topped Gingrich by 9 points -- 49 percent to 40 percent. Among independents, Obama led Romney 44 percent to 38 percent and opened up a 56 percent to 29 percent advantage over Gingrich, the poll found. Gingrich grabbed 12 percent of registered Democrats, while Romney secured 18 percent of registered Democrats.
"Newt Gingrich is weak among Florida independents and likely Democratic voters compared to Romney," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. "If Florida is one of six key states that swings the national election, independents in Florida hold that key, and this poll suggests that Newt won’t be able to secure Florida for his party."
Gingrich has 29 percent favorable and 58 percent unfavorable rating statewide among all likely voters. That's compared to Romney's 44 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable rating. Romney’s popularity was lower among independents: 37 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable, while Gingrich’s popularity among independents imploded to 19 percent favorable with 70 percent unfavorable.
The statewide survey of 600 Florida registered voters was conducted between Jan. 22 and 24, using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users. The margin of error is +/-4 percent. Suffolk University will be fielding a poll limited to likely Florida Republican primary voters this weekend, after the final Republican presidential debate in Florida. The university will release the findings at noon on Monday, the day before the primary.
Newt Gingrich drew a standing room only crowd to a hotel ballroom in Cocoa. The doors were shut after about 700 people arrived, a crowd so large that many stood behind the TV cameras, laughing as an emcee told the crowd to take a seat.
Among the fans, Angelo Truglio, 68, a retiree who, when asked who he was voting for, said, "Nuke 'em Newt."
A loyal Republican, Truglio said he's never been a fan of Mitt Romney's -- despite his establishment backing.
"They've been pushing him for so long, I got tired of him," he said. "I like Newt, he's got the fight in him."
He said he wasn't troubled by any of Gingrich's baggage -- including the marriages or the work for Freddie Mac.
"I remember what he did in Congress," he said. "Look at all he accomplished."
Gingrich is delivering a speech heavy on space and acknowledged at the outset to being a space geek: "I'm old enough that I used to read missiles and rockets magazine," he said. He's mentioned Romney just once, to say that Romney has poked fun at him for dreaming big about space.
He pledged to be a president who would deliver "relentless pressure to be faster... more innovative" in the space industry.
"By the end of my second term," he said to laughter and cheers. "We will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American."
"Does that mean I'm a visionary? You betcha," he said to applause.
He noted he was "attacked the other night for being grandiose," and noted that the Wright Brothers dreaming of winged flight were grandiose, as was John F. Kennedy for wanting to get a man on the moon.
"Americans are instinctively grandiose," he said to applause.
-- Lesley Clark