Mitt Romney takes early lead in Florida GOP race

POSTED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 5:00pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 5:18pm

Mitt Romney's sounding like he's already won Florida and the nomination.

"People realize that if they want to see change in Washington,” said Romney. “You can't just elect people to take different chairs!"

A half-million Floridians have voted early, and Romney leads 2-1 in exit polls.

At Cigar Bar in Tampa, today was Bill Rexford, who voted early last week for Newt Gingrich, but now he regrets it.

"I don't know if it's the TV ads that Romney put out or whatever, but I just don't think that he - Gingrich - can really take the votes needed to win the presidential election," stated Rexford.

Gingrich is being outspent 4 to 1 on Florida television, slammed by pro-Romney attack ads.

At a Romney rally, Gingrich ad man Rick Tyler vented to reporters. “Well, when you dump, you know, $15-$20 million worth of false advertising, it’s going to have an effect,” said Tyler.

Romney claims Gingrich wailed on him in South Carolina and won, so Romney's firing back in Florida.

"No question - politics ain't beanbags,” stated Romney. “We've gotten our message out in Florida, loud and clear."

Staunch conservatives aren't impressed.

"I'm looking for something that's going to help small business, and Mitt Romney - I don't think has been able to do that," said Florida GOP primary voter Randy Barden.

And Newt Gingrich claims he's resurging, "We have closed the gap. Despite all the ads and all the falsehoods, we are within five points."

In fact, today's polls do show a closer race.

Gingrich claims he's in this until the GOP convention here in this city, Romney said that's what politicians say when they know they're going to lose.

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