Newt Gingrich addresses the media after attending a church service Sunday… (Matt Roarke / Associated…)
Reporting from Lutz, Fla. — As two new polls showed Newt Gingrich potentially facing a double-digit loss in Florida’s primary in two days, the former House speaker pushed back, predicting a protracted battle with Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination that would culminate at the party convention in August.
“We will go all the way to the convention,” Gingrich told reporters after attending services at a megachurch here. “This is going to be a straight-out contest for the next four or five months.”
At the news conference and on television Sunday morning, Gingrich, who frequently calls Romney a “Massachusetts moderate,” called the former governor a “liberal.”
“It will be very, very clear, increasingly clear over the next few weeks, that this party is not going to nominate somebody who is a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase liberal,” Gingrich said. “Look, it’s not going to happen.”
Polls released over the weekend showed Romney between 11 and 15 percentage points ahead of Gingrich in Florida, but Gingrich predicted that the end result in Tuesday’s primary would be much closer and highlighted the support for him and Rick Santorum.
“The most significant thing in both polls this morning is that when you add the two conservatives together, we clearly beat Romney,” he said. “When you take all the non-Romney votes, it's very likely that at the convention there will be a non-Romney majority and maybe a very substantial one. My job is to convert that into a Gingrich majority.”
He said Republicans would not be hurt by a lengthy nomination fight, and pointed to 2008’s slugfest between President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton as an example, saying that the protracted battle led them to win the general election.
“This is a campaign about the future of America and the future of the Republican party,” he said.