|Page (1) of 1 - 02/01/12||email article||print page|
With strong victory in Florida, Mitt Romney turns focus back to President Barack Obama
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) ' OBAMA BACK IN FOCUS
Sounding like the presumptive GOP nominee once again, Mitt Romney is returning his focus to President Barack Obama.
After a week of relentlessly targeting Newt Gingrich, slamming the former House speaker constantly for his work for mortgage lender Freddie Mac, Romney more or less ignored Gingrich and the rest of his GOP opponents on primary night. Calling his fellow Republicans "good competitors" he pivoted back to President Barack Obama. Romney tore into the president, deriding his leadership, and comparing and contrasting himself with the commander in chief. He said his leadership helped build businesses from scratch, save the Olympic Games and cut taxes. He said Obama hasn't so much led but followed: "Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow and now it's time for you to get out of the way," Romney said.
Romney also alluded to Obama's 2008 campaign slogan.
"Together, we will build an America where 'hope' is a new job with a paycheck, not a faded word on an old bumper sticker," he said.
Absent from Romney's speech? Any references by name to GOP rivals Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul.
GINGRICH SEES TWO
Romney may have beaten Gingrich decisively in Florida, but Gingrich said the contest is now clearly a two-person race. Gingrich said his performance in Florida shows he has emerged as the conservative alternative to Romney. Though Romney did not mention Gingrich in his speech, Gingrich stayed on the front-runner, continuing to label the former Massachusetts governor a "Massachusetts moderate."
Gingrich also lobbed shots at Obama, saying he would reverse a slew of his policies as soon as he was elected.
Gingrich also wasn't subtle about his intention to fight on: He spoke in front of a podium sign that read "46 states to go," a reference to the number of nominating contests left. He said he plans to stay in the race until all of the nominating contests are over and said he believes he will be the nominee in Tampa.
NOT HOT FOR FLORIDA
While Gingrich and Romney gave primary-night speeches from the Sunshine State, Santorum and Paul were long gone. The two are targeting other states in the nominating contest and both of them addressed supporters from Nevada on Tuesday night.
Santorum quickly congratulated Mitt Romney on his victory, but was critical of the former Massachusetts governor and Gingrich saying "Republicans can do better." He said the American people don't want to watch people get into a mud-slinging contest and said he will continue to campaign on the issues. He repeated a line from Thursday night's GOP debate saying that he had no problem with Mitt Romney's work in the private sector and that he has no objection to Gingrich's work for Freddie Mac and other private companies after he left office.
Paul said he called Romney to congratulate him -- and told the former governor he would "see him soon in the caucus states." He said he is in third place with delegates "and that's what counts."