Tampa, Florida (CNN) – On the eve of the Florida Republican primary Monday, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was already looking at what might have gone wrong for him in the state.
Gingrich pointed Monday to attacks from his opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and the super PAC supporting him.
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"I'll tell you what, there's nothing like 17-and-a-half million dollars in false ads to make a big difference," Gingrich told CNN's Joe Johns. "The reason I seemed flat in the second debate in Florida is I have never seen a candidate for president that methodically dishonest."
Most recent polling has shown Gingrich trailing Romney by double digits in the state.
Earlier Monday in Jacksonville, a flippant remark by Gingrich about negative ads encapsulates the Republican presidential candidate's view on why he may be struggling in Florida.
"Just as we had in South Carolina, there was this huge wave of dishonest Romney ads, and for a little bit people backed up and went 'wow' - and frankly, if that stuff was true, I wouldn't vote for myself - and then gradually they started to filter it out, they started to sort it out, they started to realize what's true and what isn't true," Gingrich said at his first stop in Jacksonville Monday.
Gingrich spent last week refuting ads that highlight ethics violations he faced near the end of his 20-year tenure as a congressman, link him to the housing crisis as a Washington insider consulting for Freddie Mac, and question his ties to conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
The former president's son, Michael Reagan, is on the former speaker's five-city tour through the Sunshine State a day ahead of the primary that Romney is primed to win.
"I figured that if his son was prepared to campaign for me, for any person with an open mind that should settle that issue totally once and for all," Gingrich said.
When it comes to advertisements, Romney and his allies are out-spending Gingrich and his supporters four to one, and a majority are attacks on the former speaker.
Despite the odds against him, Gingrich said his campaign is closing the gap. "We are within five points," he said.
Gingrich is trying to capitalize on a Reuters TV interview in which billionaire Democrat George Soros said he considers a Gingrich presidency a real threat.
"Here is this ultra left wing billionaire explaining to the Europeans about American politics, and Soros goes, you know we don't actually care if it's Romney or Obama. They are about the same. But Gingrich would be a real threat," he said at a Pensacola rally. "I want to reassure George Soros – he is right. I am a real threat."
The White House hopeful is casting this election between a Reagan conservative against the establishment and a Massachusetts moderate, which he said "is a liberal by Republican standards."
"The idea that the conservative movement is going to roll over and give up and allow – it's not going to happen," Gingrich said.
Former presidential candidate Herman Cain endorsed Gingrich last week and appeared at a rally with him in a Tampa aircraft hangar.
Cain called him "the leader for our time" and said, "Stay informed, don't be buffaloed with all of the distractions and the attacks and the negativity and all of the bad information out there. Stay informed, because as you know and I know, stupid people are ruining America, and we gotta stop that."
- Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.