ORLANDO, Fla — One of Florida’s most durable Republican leaders who is now Newt Gingrich’s state campaign chairman weighed in strongly against the attacks on the former House speaker by Mitt Romney in the state’s presidential primary.
Former State Attorney General Bill McCollum said that Romney’s current leads in most primary-even polls is in large part due to the large financial edge his campaign holds over Gingrich’s. (According to published reports, Romney has outspent Gingrich by $12 million on the Florida airwaves).
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And the latest media broadsides from the Romney camp against Gingrich’s tenure as speaker of the House (1994-98) “are just plain false,” said McCollum, who also served in the U.S. House from 1980-2000 and was a Clinton impeachment manager in 1998-99.
Citing Romney’s ads claiming that the Gingrich was forced out of his position by colleagues and resigned “in disgrace,” McCollum reminded HUMAN EVENTS that Gingrich initiated the probe of his ethical charges against him by the House Committee on Ethics, that he decided to accept its claim that he owed $300,000 in fines to the House and paid the fine, and that his resignation came more than a year after the ethics controversy that surrounded the speaker was resolved.
While admitting that many polls show Romney leading Gingrich in the Florida contest January 31, McCollum also pointed out that there are some polls showing the race tightening “so it could be close.” He also referred to the hard count of national convention delegates, “and that shows Romney with 33 delegates and Gingrich with 26. So if Romney wins Florida and gets all 50 of its delegates, that puts him at 83.” And then with Gingrich’s homestate of Georgia and the eight other states selecting delegates on “Super Tuesday” in March, McCollum added, the former speaker can easily overcome that edge and go on to win at the national convention in Tampa.
“Remember, he said, there’s more than 1,000 delegates out there to be chosen,” he told us, “and Newt Gingrich will be in this to the end.”