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Gingrich adamant about moving on to Florida primary

EASLEY, S.C. — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, buoyed by a strong debate performance and reports showing him surging in polls, said today he is "absolutely" taking his campaign into Florida for the next primary contest at the end of the month.

Gingrich spoke to the Tribune-Review exclusively, saying that it is clear after the last Republican presidential debate that conservative voters are surging his way. "As more and more people hear what I have to say, they are coming to the conclusion that I am the only candidate who can beat Barack Obama in November," he said.

"There is no question I am going to Florida," he said. The primary there is Jan. 31

Gingrich said polls show him moving ahead of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and closing the gap with Romney. "The core argument I have that I am a much more electable candidate than a Massachusetts governor, the base has made it clear they want a true conservative and my message as a paycheck president is resonating in this economy," he said.

A national Rasmussen tracking poll of likely Republican primary voters released today showed Gingrich's debate performance Monday night bumped his support to 27 percent, not far behind Romney's 30 percent. That pushed Santorum out of second place, with 15 percent. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas fell to fourth place, with 13 percent, and Perry had support from 4 percent. Seven percent were undecided; 4 percent would prefer some other candidate.

That national poll does not necessarily represent the views of voters in South Carolina, whose primary is Saturday, said Kevan Yenerall, a political science professor at Pennsylvania's Clarion University.

But, Yenerall said, political observers can't ignore the bump Gingrich is having after the debate. "He has a legitimate case to make to go on to Florida, but he still has to really pull away from Santorum in these final days in South Carolina."

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