Mitt Romney
5:18 am
Sat January 28, 2012

'Battling Was Won': Romney Gets Boost In Florida

Originally published on Sat January 28, 2012 12:07 pm

After his second-place finish in the South Carolina primary, Mitt Romney arrived in Florida armed with money and organization. He's used both to stop Newt Gingrich's momentum. With three days until the primary, polls give Romney a solid lead over Gingrich in Florida.

Florida is a big state, but Romney and Gingrich's paths have crossed often this week. There were the two debates, and in Miami on Friday, Romney, like Gingrich, spoke to the Hispanic Leadership Network.

In his talk, Romney made a pitch to Florida's Puerto Rican voters, a group that will be especially important in the general election.

"By the way, I'm looking forward to the time when the people of Puerto Rico make their decision about becoming a state," he said.

A few hours later, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, a statehood proponent, endorsed Romney.

The Space Coast Vote

Later in the day, a couple of hundred miles north, Romney was at Cape Canaveral. Gingrich had been in the area a day earlier laying out his vision for the space program — one that includes a colony on the moon by the year 2020.

Romney spoke at Astrotech, a company that helped build components for the space shuttle. He was there to talk about the space program, but first had other things on his mind.

"How about that debate last night? Wasn't that fun? I've had the fun of having two debates where I had to stand up and battle," he said. "Battling was fun and battling was won."

On Friday, Romney announced his space policy advisory group, one that includes two former astronauts and the former head of NASA. Though he didn't mention Gingrich by name, he appeared to be trying to draw a contrast between the different approaches the candidates are taking to the space program.

"In the politics of the past, to get your vote on the Space Coast, I'd come here and promise hundreds of billions of dollars," he said. "Or I'd lay out what my mission is ... I'm not going to do that."

Romney said he could only determine the best course for the space program after first setting objectives, looking at the data and subjecting it to expert analysis. That's the way, he said, big decisions are made in the private sector.

Ruth Howard, who was there with five of her six kids, liked what she heard.

"Some of Gingrich's ideas sound good, but they don't sound realistic. They're really kind of out there," she said, "and I think that Romney just seems like someone that you can really count on."

On Debating Obama

Romney closed his day with a large rally in Orlando. The city is a Puerto Rican stronghold, and he was joined onstage by Fortuno.

Once again, Romney brought up Thursday's debate, taking jabs at Gingrich for complaining the crowd was packed with Romney supporters.

"I'm looking forward to debating Barack Obama. I'm not going to worry about the crowd," he said. "I'm going to be sure that we tell the truth to Barack Obama and get him out of the White House."

Romney was also joined onstage in Orlando by Sen. John McCain. McCain told the crowd he thought that there had been enough primary debates, but that Romney's two performances this week have helped turn around his campaign.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It seems to have been a good week for Mitt Romney. After a second-place finish in the South Carolina primary, he arrived in Florida armed with money and organization, and he has used both to try to stop the rise of Newt Gingrich. NPR's Greg Allen spent the day following Mitt Romney as he campaigned around the state.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Florida is a big state, but Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich's paths have crossed often this week. There were the two debates of course, and in Miami, like Gingrich, Romney spoke to the Hispanic Leadership Network. In his talk, Romney made a pitch to Florida's Puerto Rican voters, a group that will be especially important in the general election.

MITT ROMNEY: By the way, I'm looking forward to the time when the people of Puerto Rico make their decision about becoming a state.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ROMNEY: Wow, we've got some friends here.

ALLEN: A few hours later, Puerto Rico's Governor, Luis Fortuno, a statehood proponent, endorsed Romney. Later in the day, a couple of hundred miles north, Romney was at Cape Canaveral. Gingrich had been in the area a day earlier laying out his vision for the space program - one that includes a colony on the moon by the year 2020. Romney spoke at Astrotech, a company that helped build components for the space shuttle. He was there to talk about the space program, but first had other things on his mind.

ROMNEY: How about that debate last night? Wasn't that fun?

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ROMNEY: I've had the fun of having two debates where I've had to stand up and battle. Battling was fun and battling was won, I'll tell you. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ALLEN: Yesterday, Romney announced his space policy advisory group, one that includes two former astronauts and the former head of NASA. Though he didn't mention Gingrich by name, he appeared to be trying to draw a contrast between the different approaches the candidates are taking to the space program.

ROMNEY: In the politics of the past, to get your votes on the Space Coast, I'd come here and promise hundreds of billions of dollars, or I'd lay out - you want to hear that, yeah. Or I'd lay out what my mission is, here's what we're going to accomplish. I'm not going to do that.

ALLEN: Romney said he could only determine the best course for the space program after first setting objectives, looking at the data and subjecting it to expert analysis. That's the way, he said, big decisions are made in the private sector. Ruth Howard, who was there with five of her six kids, liked what she heard.

RUTH HOWARD: Some of Gingrich's ideas sound good, but they don't sound realistic. They're really kind of out there, and I think that Romney just seems like someone that you can really count on.

ALLEN: Romney closed his day with a large rally in Orlando. This is a Puerto Rican stronghold, and he was joined on stage by Puerto Rico Governor Fortuno. Once again, Romney brought up Thursday's debate, taking jabs at Gingrich for complaining the crowd was packed with Romney supporters.

ROMNEY: I'm looking forward to debating Barack Obama. I'm not going to worry about the crowd. I'm going to be sure that we tell the truth to Barack Obama and get him out of the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ALLEN: Romney was also joined on stage in Orlando by Senator John McCain. McCain told the crowd he thought there had been enough primary debates, but Romney's two performances this week have helped turn around his campaign. Greg Allen, NPR News, Orlando. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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