Winter Park, Fla. - For a man with such a lengthy resume, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sure is having trouble finding his political identity.
In one breath he's clinically making the case why it's obvious he's the only Republican who could defeat President Barack Obama in the fall; but in the next, he's begging audience members to get their friends who support former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to vote for him.
"I've had a fairly long experience at trying to figure out how you communicate with the American people and how you get this done," he said of winning the general election in front of hundreds of supporters in this suburb of Orlando on Saturday.
"Now let's look at the other team. We nominated a moderate in 1996. Failed. Go back and look at the debates. Couldn't distinguish himself. We nominated a moderate in 2008. Go back and look at the debates," Gingrich said. "If we nominate a moderate, we are in real trouble, it's sad to say."
But how did he wrap up that event?
"There's only one possibility for a conservative victory in Florida," Gingrich said. "My point is, if you talk to – because all of you have friends that like Rick. That's just a fact. He's a very attractive and desirable person with a great personal family story. So please just try to convince your friends the only effective, practical, conservative vote is for Newt Gingrich. That's just a fact."
If voters can believe the paradox that Gingrich is at the same time the most conservative and only candidate sure to beat Obama but at the same time unable to secure the GOP nomination without groveling for Santorum scraps, he's got more for them.
He's willing to throw out some of the juiciest red meat during the campaign trail and penned a memo in the 1990s that many consider the blueprint for today's climate of permanent campaigning, but he's also able to win compromises.
The president? Gingrich said he's "totally incompetent and a radical."
Stem cell research?
"This was never an argument about science. This was the use of science to justify desensitizing the society to killing babies," he said.
Have no fear though, if elected, Gingrich vows to "just try to lower the temperature, try to create a new mood and a new attitude."
He'll meet with every single Democratic member of Congress, he said.
"And I'll say to them look, we're going to be together for the four years. Under what circumstance can you help America and put America first and what is it we can do to achieve something together?" Gingrich said.
Without batting an eye – or taking a breath – he pirouetted back again.
"Second, I'm going to pick fights," he said. "My personal goal is, by the time Barack Obama lands in Chicago, we will have dismantled 40 percent of his work."
This haphazard approach, full of seeming hypocrisy, is not new to Gingrich's campaign and in fact, may be why he's been able to resuscitate his candidacy twice yet.
Leading up to Iowa, he was a happy warrior and statesman, showering praise on each of his GOP presidential rivals and vowing to stay positive in the face of a torrent of attacks. By South Carolina, he was just a warrior, lashing out so viciously at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney regarding his work at Bain Capital and reluctance to release his tax returns that many in the GOP privately rebuked him.
But the swagger he had in the Palmetto state has melted away in the heat of Florida. At a time when he should have been riding high following his stunning come from behind drubbing of Romney in South Carolina, the Gingrich now on the campaign trail seems at a loss and hoping his buckshot approach will be enough.
A pair of new polls released on Saturday continued to show Romney with a healthy lead in the Sunshine state match-up, though Gingrich vowed to stay in the hunt until the Republican convention.