Trailing Newt Gingrich Makes Plea for Votes

Gingrich pitches Florida voters

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Orlando, FLA – A down-but-not-out Newt Gingrich campaigned across Florida on Saturday, pitching voters on his conservative credentials and commitment to interests close to their hearts.

At a sparsely attended event billed as a Hispanic town hall meeting at Centro de La Familia, a non-profit in Orlando, Gingrich made remarks that lasted about five minutes, even though he was an hour late to the event. After pledging to aid Puerto Rico if residents voted for statehood and vowing to initiate a "Cuban Spring" uprising against communism, GOP presidential hopeful Gingrich made another pitch for support before Republicans go to the polls Tuesday.

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"I have a very simple case—we nominated a moderate in 1996 and we lost. We nominated a moderate in 2008 and we lost. I believe only a solid conservative can debate Barack Obama and win," the former House speaker said.

He cut short his speech in order to invest in some "people power" he told the audience of about 70.

"My competitor on Tuesday has money power, there's no question he can raise more money from Wall Street than I can," Gingrich said of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "What I want to do is have people power. And so I want to chat with each one of you personally, and ask you to go out on Facebook and YouTube on Twitter and email and even with telephone and talk to people face-to-face the old fashioned way. And just help us."

With that, Gingrich and wife Callista proceeded to shake hands and take photographs with all willing members of the mostly Latino audience.

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But the brief appearance did not disappoint Diana Marie of Sanford, Fla., who said she wanted Gingrich to run for president before he knew he wanted to.

"He has all the experience, he tells the truth, he tells it like it is and he sees the big picture," she said, adding that she had just come from casting her ballot early for Gingrich.

Maria said the difference between Gingrich and Romney is the "way he delivers the answers to the questions."

"He knows what he's talking about; it's not rhetoric," she said. "It's not: I wake up in the morning and find out which way the wind is blowing."

Later, as a much more heavily attended event at Aloma Baptist Church in Winter Park, Fla., Gingrich brought the crowd of several hundred to their feet several times, delivering stump speech lines vowing to repeal Obamacare and maintaining English as the official language.

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He then made another pitch for votes—this time encouraging the audience to tell their friends who support former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to jump ship.

"There's only one possibility for a conservative victory in Florida," Gingrich said, referring to polls that show Santorum trailing badly in the race. "Try to convince your friends that the only effective, practical conservative vote on Tuesday is for Newt Gingrich."

The same polls that have Santorum near the bottom show Romney leading Gingrich by about 10 points.

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Email: rmetzler@usnews.com

Twitter: @rebekahmetzler