Mitt Romney victory speech in Tampa goes after Obama

02/01/12 Janelle Irwin
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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney won Florida’s primary, which gives him a leg up on the Republican nomination. In a celebratory speech in front of hundreds of supporters last night at the Tampa Convention Center, Romney shifted his criticism from party rival Newt Gingrich to President Barack Obama during a flood of cheers.

Florida’s winner-take-all 50 delegates now belong to Romney. His victory puts him at 87 delegates which are more than three times his closest competitor Newt Gingrich. The commanding lead may have given Romney the confidence to slow down his campaign against fellow Republicans in favor of November’s bigger prize.

“President Obama believes that our roll as leader in the world is a thing of the past. He’s intent on shrinking our military capacity at a time when the world is facing rising threats. I will insist on a military so powerful, no one would ever think of challenging it. President Obama has adopted a policy of appeasement and apology. I will speak out for those seeking freedom and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with out friends around the world.”

The blitz campaign Romney ran against Gingrich in Florida was largely negative. Romney said Democrats see that as a silver lining, but it’s not.

“They like to comfort themselves with the thought that a competitive campaign will leave us divided and weak. But I’ve got news for them. A competitive campaign primary does not divide us, it prepares us and we will win.”

In his victory speech, Romney told supporters he’s here to collect on Obama’s promise that he would be a one term president if he couldn’t fix the economy in three years. Romney reeled off a list of his own promises including protecting religious freedoms and restoring the economy.

“Our plans protect freedom and opportunity and our blueprint is the constitution of the United States. Together we will build an America where hope is a new job with a paycheck not a faded word on an old bumper sticker.”

But even though Romney has triple the delegates of Gingrich, the race is far from over. Nevada will hold its caucuses Saturday on the same day the Maine caucuses begin. And still Romney needs more 1,000 delegates to secure the nomination. At an election night rally in Orlando Gingrich said he’s in it for the long haul.

“We’re going to have people power defeat money power in the next six months. We are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.”

Gingrich has lost and gained momentum several times throughout this primary campaign. His most recent surge came in winning the South Carolina primary. But that momentum quickly faded. At the Romney rally, out-of-towner Craig Rollins said he thinks Romney tried to stay out of the political mud and is confident he will be the next president.

“So, I think he has tried to rise above the morass and I think his competitors have pulled him back into it in order for him to continue to win, but I think his main target has always been Obama, the fact that we’re in an economic upheaval and that we need to completely turn our nation around; not only in terms of our economics, but in terms of returning to the fundamentals that have made us great.”

Not everyone supported Romney though. Outside the convention center Occupy Tampa protester Tim Osmar held a mocking Romney sign and called him a fascist.

“I think he’s a dirt bag. I think he made his fortune largely over the gutting and destruction of American corporations. And then he’s going to turn around and say, ‘the economy’s in the pits so elect me and I’ll fix it’. The corporation that he set up – Bain Capital – the business model was buy corporations, fix corporations, profit. And instead, he bought corporations, destroyed them, gutted them alive, sent the jobs overseas and profited.”

Romney won with 46 percent of the vote. Gingrich received 32%, while Rick Santorum and Ron Paul together only brought in about 20% of the vote. According to the Florida Department of State website, Republican primary voter turnout was down from 2008 when 1.95 million voters cast a ballot. This year, only 1.67 million registered Republicans participated in the election. Romney leads the race in fundraising, having earned almost $60 million in 2011. He’s got about $20 million in the bank which will give him a head start on his national campaign against President Obama.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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