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Gingrich: Romney would become a 'running joke' for skipping Tampa debate

Republican Mitt Romney's apparent refusal to commit to a Tampa Bay Times/National Journal debate in Tampa on Monday is all posture -- at least as far as Newt Gingrich is concerned.

"Romney can’t claim that he’s prepared to debate Obama if he’s not prepared to debate Newt Gingrich. It would become a running joke," Gingrich said. "So I’m confident he’ll be there Monday night."

Gingrich has a stake in the debates. He excels at them. And he just needs to show up. It's called "free media"  -- no need to drop millions of dollars he doesn't have on television ads that move the Florida electorate. Romney has gone the paid route, spending upward of $2.5 million on ads across Florida.

Last night, Romney had a flat performance and Gingrich wowed the crowd in Charleston, S.C.. Afterward, strategist Stuart Stevens told the Washington Examiner that "There are too many of these We have to bring some order to it.  We haven't accepted Florida…It's kind of like a cruise that's gone on too long."