Winter Park, Florida (CNN) - Newt Gingrich cautioned against crowning Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nominee and pushed his own Washington experience as the answer to the nation's woes as he campaigned in Florida on Saturday.
"We have to have a conservative, otherwise we're going to be as frustrated with the Republican as we were with the Democrat," Gingrich said before an audience of hundreds here at Aloma Baptist Church. "We've tried an amateur for the last three years, and the truth is while he may be good at business, Governor Romney has never had one day of experience trying to get something done in Washington on a scale, on a big scale."
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The former House speaker emphasized his decades of experience in Washington by noting, "I've been around longer than some of you have been alive."
He touted his long conservative track record as the key to beating President Barack Obama.
"I believe I have a dramatically better chance of winning this fall than anyone else we could nominate given the current field," he said.
Speaking to an evangelical audience in Winter Park, Gingrich mentioned his other opponent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, with whom he is competing for the conservative vote.
He resurrected a South Carolina argument that conservatives need to coalesce around one candidate.
"Please just try to convince your friends, the only effective, practical conservative vote on Tuesday is for Newt Gingrich, because that's just a fact," he said.
As he was saying he has "great respect for my good friend Rick," someone in the audience yelled "next time around." Gingrich echoed the sentiment.
"Next time around is a good battle cry."
Gingrich began Saturday along the coast with stops in Stuart and Port St. Lucie. In the afternoon his campaign bus made its way to central Florida to speak at two events in Orlando and the church forum nearby in Winter Park. He'll conclude the day with a speech at the Palm Beach Lincoln Day Dinner.
At a number of campaign stops ranging in crowd size with varied enthusiasm, the former speaker made the case against a Romney nomination by reminding Floridians what happened to past GOP presidential candidates including former Sen. Bob Dole and Sen. John McCain.
"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," Gingrich said in Port St. Lucie.
The former speaker exuded confidence after his speech on a putting green at the PGA Learning Center, telling reporters he expects to go all the way to the convention and he will win the nomination.
Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.
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Gingrich is a national disgrace to the Republican party. Sadly he is forcing Romney to get in the mud with him to expose him for what and who he is. The sooner he is gone, the sooner the GOP can get on message and go after Obama's failed record.
Newt still thinks he can win.... keep believin' Newt, Obama will bury whoever your party of true Soviets has to offer.
Then what's he whining about, Barack Obama is every bit as conservative as Bill Clinton (my God, he even passed a Republican Healthcare Plan!)
Gee whiz, what could it possibly be about Barack Obama that Republicans don't like?
When I start to feel conservative I take a laxative and then I return to normal.
Newt wants a true conservative. His attacks on capitalism prove Mitt is the true conservative.
this guy is like hitler. telling the people what they want to hear, playing on their desperation for a strong leader to lift them from an economically challenging situation. Unfortunately, just like hitler, this isn't the kind of guy we should be following.
How can someone who shot a commercial with Nancy Pelosi about Global Warming call himself a conservative?
Gingrich and Romney are both worshipers of big government; welfare and warfare.
Gotta give the Newtster credit, he was the first big idea, from the heart conservative. Romney is nothing more than Obama-lite, the "Establishment" candidate. Basically, the establishment decided who the Tea Party SHALL vote for, like it or not.
And you don't think Mitch Daniels had the Grinch in mind in his reply to the state of the Union – I quote "I personally would add to that list admiration for the strong family commitment that he and the First Lady have displayed to a nation sorely needing such examples. "
What's the rhetoric behind this, how is this thinking good for the country. Why do we "have to have a conservative"? We have to bring our alpha white to counter their black, and we shall escalate this to choke out all shades of gray. Nice job Newt, you just proved yourself to be another case of political status quo, and everything most of this country is sick and tired of politically.
Yes Newt 2012 all the wayY!!
President Obama will dissect Noot
Sarah palin stay away . Stop campaining for newt . Be thankful to mccain who resurrected you. Enjoy your 15 mins of fame.
"we MUST have a conservative"?? Why?? So far all that bunch has done is cheat and lie. I don't see any benefit in having one at the head of our country.
Stick it to them Gingrich! the no conservative goproudly oops I meant goshamefully is with Mitts and the left of the leftovers!!
Keep dreaming Newt, it's good to dream. Let me tell u something Newt don't let the suit fool u. U never be the nomminee n u never be president
Gingrich is not a Reagan Conservative. He is a Clinton Liberal.