Nightly News   |  January 27, 2012

Romney gains ground in Florida

Newt Gingrich unleashes a fiery ad attacking his rival while Romney appealed to Florida’s Hispanic voters. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> good evening. the next contest in the wild run for the nomination in the gop is in florida . there have been two televised debates there tonight there is fresh evidence voters are making up their minds. the trend lines are moving away from newt gingrich , who won the last primary, and toward mitt romney . romney is now getting a lot of help from members of the republican party who think newt gingrich as the nominee going up against president obama in the fall is a bad idea. it's getting rough once again in florida tonight. it's where we begin on this friday evening with nbc's peter alexander from the campaign trail. peter, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening to you. tonight mitt romney 's campaign feels very strongly that they have the momentum back in this race ahead of florida 's vote four days from now. this is the biggest prize yet with both front runners crisscrossing the state trying to touch all four connors.

>> i thought it was a delightful debate. i loved it.

>> reporter: energized after his strong performance in last night's debate. mitt romney tried to ensure florida 's influential spanish population he's on their side, using his youngestson to warm up the crowd. [ speaking spanish ]

>> reporter: earlier, newt gingrich argued he is the candidate most sympathetic to the immigrant community.

>> i would like a cuban spring in 2013 to help the people of cuba liberate themselves.

>> reporter: while he rarely mentioned romney by name today, gingrich unleashed this fiery new ad attacking his rival.

>> what kind of man would mislead, distort and deceive just to win an election?

>> reporter: last night romney was aggressive and relentless trying to gain the momentum in the see-saw battle. rebuked gingrich .

>> i'm not anti-immigrant michlt father was born in mexico. the idea is repulsivrepulsive.

>> reporter: gingrich who repeat repeatedly denied attacks he supported freddie mac .

>> maybe romney should tell us how much money he made off how many households have been foreclosed by his investments. let's be clear about that.

>> first of all, my investments are not made by me. my investments for the last ten years have been the blind trust managed by a trustee. have you checked your own investments? you also have investments for mutual funds that invest in fannie mae and freddie mac .

>> reporter: trying to make up ground, rick santorum who pressed romney on his state's health care plan.

>> in massachusetts , everybody is mandated as a condition of breathing in massachusetts to buy health insurance . if you don't, and if you don't, you have to pay a fine. what's happened in massachusetts is people are now paying the fine.

>> reporter: also tonight, the romney campaign is touting the endorsement of puerto rico 's governor as they try to shore up support within the state's his tannic community.

>> peter alexander starting us off from there. thanks.