US Republican Presidential Candidates in Heated Battle for Florida

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The latest political polls indicate U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is surging ahead of rival candidate Newt Gingrich in Florida, just two days before that southern state holds its primary.

A new (NBC/Marist) poll Sunday showed Romney with the support of 42 percent of Florida Republicans, while Gingrich trailed with 27 percent.

Romney, a multimillionaire investor and former governor of Massachusetts, needs a win in Florida to regain his momentum after losing to Gingrich in the South Carolina primary January 21. The latest polls show that, after a week of fierce campaigning, Romney’s lead there appears to be widening.

However, Gingrich says he expects the Florida race to be closer than indicated. Speaking after a church service near the city of Tampa, Gingrich fought back against Romney, calling him a “pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts.”

For his part, Romney told supporters in the city of Naples that Gingrich is making excuses for his debate performances. He has previously blasted Gingrich for being found guilty of ethics violations that forced him to resign as House speaker.

Romney won a decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary and initially was declared the winner of the first nominating contest in Iowa, before an updated vote tally revealed that former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum had won.

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