It's probably not what the Gingrich campaign intended, but former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain stole the show in Tampa at one of the final events before Floridian voters take to the polls Tuesday. But judging from how much he obviously enjoyed being in the spotlight again, it's probably just what Cain intended.
Cain briefly led the Republican field last year before he was forced to drop out after allegations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity. Still popular among Tea Party voters and conservatives, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's candidacy over the weekend.
Cain pledged he would be "sharing [Gingrich's] messaging of solutions" on the stump to help keep Gingrich's fading candidacy alive. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds double-digit leads in polls ahead of Tuesday's vote, though the Gingrich campaign cites polling that shows them either tied or within striking distance.
"Here's what I can do - I can talk about some of the bold solutions Newt Gingrich believes in because he can't get through a lot of the negativity," Cain said in a brief media availability before the Tampa campaign stop.
"So when I go out on the stump, I'm not going to be talking about Romney's tax return, I'm not going to be talking about and defending all the negativity," Cain said. "I know where Speaker Gingrich stands on the tax code. I know where he stands on energy independence. We're on the same page where he stands on regulatory reform. So I am going to be sharing his message of solutions. That will help some of the negativity."
Cain echoed those same sentiments before the crowd of about 150 in a jetport hangar in Tampa, a city of about 335,000 residents according go the latest U.S. census. Cain's enthusiastic presence served to revive the sparsely attended event that was further dampened by Gingrich's tardiness; he took the stage exactly one hour and 45 minutes after he was scheduled to begin.
Part of the delay was due to being interviewed by selected major media outlets outside the venue, including a talk with Fox News' Bret Baier, who tweeted for viewers to tune in to see the "explosive" interview.
When he finally took the stage, Gingrich repeated his usual stump speech, albeit with an added urgency.
"Let me be clear: we really need your help," he said. "I believe that the conservative movement has come a long way. We know what we stand for. We stand for limited, effective Constitutional government."
He continued to push back on the conservative legitimacy of Romney, saying he spent $17.5 million "on falsehoods." He cited specifically an ad that accuses Gingrich of overstating the relationship with conservative icon Ronald Reagan, something Gingrich says proves how "out-of-touch" Romney is capable of being.
Michael Reagan, the president's son, was at the event and defended Gingrich, saying he had "done more for this party than anyone in this race for president."