Tampa, Florida (CNN) – Hours before the presidential candidates face-off in another debate – the first one since Newt Gingrich's decisive win in South Carolina – the former House speaker described rival Mitt Romney as "desperate."
"If you've been campaigning for six years and you begin to see it slip away you get desperate," Gingrich said Monday in Tampa. "And when you get desperate you say almost anything, and I think at tonight's debate he'll stretch the barrier on almost anything."
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Gingrich was holding a rally outside on The River Church's property, his first campaign stop ahead of Florida's January 31 primary, when he laid out what makes him more electable over presumed front-runner Romney.
Gingrich asked, "Who do you think in the debates has the ability to go toe to toe with President Obama?"
"That's one of the best arguments for nominating me rather than Romney. See Romneycare and Obamacare are about that far a part," Gingrich said gesturing his arms closer together. "So as I was saying the genuine gap between a Reagan conservative and Barack Obama is very wide, and you need it to be this wide because you need to be in a position that most of his billion dollars falls on empty space in-between the two of you."
Just as Gingrich was making that distinction, a woman in the audience yelled, "You're not a Reagan conservative."
It turns out she's an Obama supporter. Diana Barrios was drowned out by Gingrich supporters and eventually left with her son.
"It's a free country and Mitt's allowed to have two people out of this number," Gingrich said, joking, "I mean it would feel really good if that was the margin in the primary."