DUNEDIN, FL.--A buoyant, cheerful and loose--for him--Mitt Romney all but predicted victory in Tuesday's Florida primary at a rally here as he assailed Newt Gingrich as a "sad" and "flailing" rival.
"With a turnout like this, I'm beginning to feel we might win tomorrow, what do you think?" Romney said. Every poll shows Romney with a healthy lead over Gingrich, trailed by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary has been complaining about the nastiness that simmered in South Carolina and erupted in Florida.
"Gosh, you know, I know the Speaker is not real happy, " Romney said. "Speaker Gingrich is not feeling very excited these days. ...I know, it's sad.
"He's been flailing around a bit trying to go after me for one thing or the other, you just watch it and you shake your head. It's been kind of painfully revealing to watch. I think the reason that he isn't doing so well is because of those last two debates, don't you think?"
Gingrich's South Carolina win was fueled by two grand slam debate performances. In Florida--with two debate, in Jacksonville and Tampa--Gingrich was flat and Romney was newly crisp and animated.
Under a cloudless sky and warm weather--Romney did contrast this with the wintery primaries of New Hampshire and Iowa--the frontrunner spoke to a crowd filling Pioneer Park in this pretty small city just north of Clearwater and near Tampa.
He was introduced by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who mocked President Barack Obama's famous 2008 "hope" and "change" slogans.
"Are you ready for some real hope and change in America?" Bondi said.
"I am so sick and tired of suing the federal government. ...That's why we need a president like Mitt Romney who understands what it takes and that the federal government has a very limited role."
"...He is pro-military, he is pro-Israel, and he is pro our Constitution," she said.