NAPLES, Florida—Mitt Romney's goal in Florida is no longer just winning.
After Gingrich scored a surprise blow-out victory in South Carolina last week, the former Massachusetts governor not only unleashed a political broadside of epic proportions.
"It's not about winning here anymore," one Romney staffer told BuzzFeed. "It's about destroying Gingrich — and it's working."
After two standout debate performances that put him up 9 points in recent polls, Romney is keeping the pressure on Gingrich, looking to score a blow-out victory of his own here.
To that end, Romney has rolled out a team of surrogates in the Sunshine State to take the fight to Gingrich in person: from Connie Mack (III) and Connie Mack (IV), to Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. John McCain. Romney has also aired a controversial ad featuring Tom Brokaw announcing that Gingrich had been sanctioned by the House.
Today both Macks took the stage before Romney to attack Gingrich's character, proclaiming that he has a “checkered past with ethics and honesty."
Romney also launched into his longest attack directed squarely at Gingrich, devoting almost four minutes of his 18 minute stump speech attacking the former Speaker of the House.
"Mr. Speaker, your trouble in Florida is not because the audience is too quiet or too loud or because you have opponents that are tough," Romney said, comparing Gingrich's complaints about debate audiences to Goldilocks. Then, with a broad smile on his face, he listed the reasons why Florida voters are now moving away from Gingrich's campaign.
"Your problem in Florida is that you worked for Freddie Mac at a time when Freddie Mac was not doing the right thing for the American people," he added.
Shortly after Romney's remarks, his campaign emailed "Earth to Newt: Tell The Truth" detailing a long list of alleged lies while mocking his ambitious space agenda.
As the clock ticks down to the polls closing here, what's clear is that this state is no longer about winning for Romney — he's out for total destruction, and he's probably going to get it.