Romney blasts Gingrich, Obama at Naples campaign stop - PHOTOS

— Rubbing shoulders with prominent Southwest Floridians, Mitt Romney blasted rival Newt Gingrich and proclaimed himself a champion for American exceptionalism in a final appeal to Naples supporters Sunday.

With between 2,000 and 3,000 people crammed between a stage, crowd barriers and media risers, downtown Sugden Plaza took on the feel of a rock concert. Fifth Avenue briefly shut down as the rally spilled into the street.

A parade of opening acts preceded Romney's 16-minute stump speech. One was U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, who is among Romney's most proactive Florida supporters, and his father, former Sen. Connie Mack III of Florida.

Even as Romney pulls ahead of Gingrich by double-digits in the most recent polls, Romney and the younger Mack — himself campaigning for the U.S. Senate — took to tearing down Gingrich.

Last week, the former House Speaker clutched the momentum he had gained by winning the South Carolina primary and attracted some 6,000 people to Cambier Park. Gingrich, addressing the throngs in a dark suit, hammered President Barack Obama from behind a lectern.

On Sunday, Romney, looking tan with rolled-up sleeves and khaki pants, was animated and carried his microphone around the stage. He compared Gingrich to fairy tale Goldilocks because he said he neither likes silent debate audiences nor loud ones.

Gingrich is "finding excuses everywhere he can," Romney said. "He's on TV this morning going from station to station complaining about what he thinks are the reasons he's had difficulty here in Florida.

"But, you know, we've got a president who has a lot of excuses. The excuses are over. It's time to produce."

Gingrich is scheduled to make a final stop in Southwest Florida on Monday with a 3 p.m. event at Fort Myers' Page Field.

On Tuesday, Florida Republicans will cast what could be the deciding vote in the GOP primary race because of the state's position as a large early voting state.

When Romney ran for president in 2008, he won Collier and Lee counties, though Arizona Sen. John McCain carried the state. Now, much of Romney's support is still intact.

Well-known Southwest Floridians streamed into Naples on Sunday and paraded across the stage to pump up their candidate. State Reps. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples and Gary Aubuchon of Cape Coral, who is running for Mack's soon-vacant congressional seat, both spoke. As did Collier County Commissioner Fred Coyle and Mayor-elect John Sorey.

"If the other candidates out there tell you that somehow (Romney) is not honest, we don't believe them," Mack said, adding that "there are others in this race who have a very checkered past when it comes to ethics and honest, but not Mitt Romney."

The remark was a veiled allusion to Gingrich. Romney also piled on, condemning government-backed mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as examples of failed government overreach. He credited the lenders with contributing to the collapsed housing market — a topic he knew would resonate here in Naples.

Then he repeated criticisms of Gingrich, who worked as a consultant for Freddie Mac in the 1990s until the mid-2000s.

"At the time, some people were standing up and saying we need to reform this system" of offering bad loans, Romney said. But "Speaker Gingrich was being paid $1.6 million to stand up and do what he did, which is to say, 'These programs should continue the way they are. These institutions are fine.'"

While Romney has made housing a key point in his Florida campaign — he spoke in front of a foreclosed Lehigh Acres home last week — some were ready to call his bluff Sunday.

A small group of Occupy Naples and Fort Myers protesters made themselves seen at the back of the crowd. One woman sang throughout the speech. They carried signs decrying corporate influence on Washington and alluded to Romney's wealth.

"I think he's out of touch with how people outside of Naples live," said Occupy protester Ron Saberton, 63, of Fort Myers, who also acknowledged that the Romney supporters were "cordial."

The crowd, most of whom wore Romney stickers on their shirts, cheered his attacks on both Gingrich and Obama.

A significant portion of Romney's brief presentation was devoted to portraying himself as fiercely patriotic. He thanked the military veterans in the crowd, quoted from "America the Beautiful" and said Americans are "special" compared to other nationalities.

"I do not want a president like our current incumbent of the White House who wants to fundamentally transform America into something we might not recognize," Romney said.

Naples Mayor Bill Barnett gave Romney a key to the city (Gingrich has one, too), and soon Romney was on his way to the east coast for a stop in Hialeah. The candidates continue their tours Monday and Tuesday.

Like several other Neapolitans in the audience Sunday, Tom Melvin, 68, sees Romney as the most presidential Republican candidate. He doesn't believe Gingrich could defeat Obama.

"Republicans have a way of goofing and making mistakes," said Melvin, who has already voted for Romney. "We hope they don't do it this time."

Staff writer Kristine Gill contributed to this report.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 31

OddsMaker (Inactive) writes:

I believe anybody who talked to the woman that sang during the speech would agree that she has a mental problem. So please refrain from making callous jokes about her or comparing her to other liberals.

Sick writes:

Just in time for the Wine festival shoulder rubbing.

What timing.

Power Play here folks!

granitestater writes:

I attended Newt's rally on Tuesday and was disappointed with his eighteen minute speech (delivered three and one-half hours behind schedule) which consisted of a rehash of his campaign soundbites.

Today I spoke with Mitt. Frankly I was not impressed with his performances in the debates but on the stump he was charismatic, dynamic, forceful and demonstrated all the reasons he is a leader and the only Republican who can deliver us from Obama. He didn't sound like he was campaigning but talking to his people in a frank and convincing way.

I'm glad I heard him speak live and he moved me from undecided to a Romney supporter. Go get 'em, Mitt!!!

LovesBS writes:

Mitt at the alternative life style park...nice! CCSD get your mace.

This continuation of GW Bush and the Thieves of Wall Street (not a 50's band)needs to pull out of the race and go back to Mess. If this guy is elected it'll be another raid on the piggy bank a/k/a taxpayers retirements, working people, the poor and all except the $250k per year repubs. Shameful.

Sick writes:

in response to granitestater:

I attended Newt's rally on Tuesday and was disappointed with his eighteen minute speech (delivered three and one-half hours behind schedule) which consisted of a rehash of his campaign soundbites.

Today I spoke with Mitt. Frankly I was not impressed with his performances in the debates but on the stump he was charismatic, dynamic, forceful and demonstrated all the reasons he is a leader and the only Republican who can deliver us from Obama. He didn't sound like he was campaigning but talking to his people in a frank and convincing way.

I'm glad I heard him speak live and he moved me from undecided to a Romney supporter. Go get 'em, Mitt!!!

I just called him and he said he did not talk to you. He said you just talked.

Sick writes:

in response to ISPEAKFORGOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sour grapes?

btw do you believe in GOD? Because I bet.....

JunkYardDog_1 (Inactive) writes:

Obama voters---->http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/30...#.TyXbrqUS3zk

granitestater writes:

in response to Sick:

I just called him and he said he did not talk to you. He said you just talked.

Actually, as a Granite Stater wearing a Pats cap while shaking hands, we did share the hope that the New England Patriots would be feted in his White House following their victory in the 2013 Super Bowl.

multi_million_heir writes:

in response to JunkYardDog_1:

Obama voters---->http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/30...#.TyXbrqUS3zk

Just helping him create jobs. OBAMA. Our Brother And Master Always.

Sick writes:

in response to granitestater:

Actually, as a Granite Stater wearing a Pats cap while shaking hands, we did share the hope that the New England Patriots would be feted in his White House following their victory in the 2013 Super Bowl.

Granite? LOL time to move on with your life.

tampacoco writes:

in response to Brown_Eye:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is funny since most folks already lost their jobs and homes during Bushs 8 years. Can't lose something that was already lost!

cynthetic43 writes:

To the first blogger. Thanks for your kind words. You mistake pathos with lucidity. My song was in hopes that the listeners might hear something they werent gulping down in their daily 24-7 Koolaid, called Fox News. I think I feel a song coming on.
It's called,Born Rich”,
sung to the tune of “Born Free”
Hum along if you dare.
Rom-ney, flip flops as the wind blows
On climate change, says “who knows?”
6 months back – he blamed mankind.
Market’s free, and money surrounds you.
The profits astound you
Each time the factory doors close.
You say-corporations are people
You paid taxes right on time, still you,ve got stuff to hide.
Rom-ney, the world is your oyster
but why such a vulture, already you were born rich.
Thanks for listening!
the Naples 99% Minstrels of Righteous Indignation

marty1102 writes:

ALL YOU ROMNEY SUPPORTERS... need to get in touch with your brain cells, because they have left you! ROMNEY is the biggest flip flopper this GOP has ever seen!! See the evidence for yourself!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyp2QI... <~~~~~~ Click here for the REAL MITT ROMNEY!!

brighteyes writes:

in response to granitestater:

I attended Newt's rally on Tuesday and was disappointed with his eighteen minute speech (delivered three and one-half hours behind schedule) which consisted of a rehash of his campaign soundbites.

Today I spoke with Mitt. Frankly I was not impressed with his performances in the debates but on the stump he was charismatic, dynamic, forceful and demonstrated all the reasons he is a leader and the only Republican who can deliver us from Obama. He didn't sound like he was campaigning but talking to his people in a frank and convincing way.

I'm glad I heard him speak live and he moved me from undecided to a Romney supporter. Go get 'em, Mitt!!!

You spoke with Mitt also? He has called me a number of times but I keep missing the calls. I also missed the calls from Gringrich. Thank God I still have a job; otherwise I would be at home to take all of their calls.

woods311 writes:

This could be the quote of the century.

"Republicans have a way of goofing and making mistakes," said Melvin, who has already voted for Romney. "We hope they don't do it this time."

- - - - - --

Everywhere you look, you see that Americans are fed up, with where the politicians are taking our country.

I have read on these forums, and other places, that people feel that our system has changed, and that Democrat and Republican, is just two sides of the same corrupt coin.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-wh...

It is becoming more and more obvious, that the system has been hijacked, to the point where we have been forced to vote for the lessor of two evils.
People not voting, or voting for the lessor of two evils, has allowed both parties to do what we all are witnessing.

Are you tired of voting for the lessor of two evils?

Do you feel that our government is broken, with no one really addressing the problems?

Do you think we can expect the "Problem" to fix the "Problem"?

The Republican voters in Florida are in a position to be the first in the country to "Just say no".

After all the occupations, and tea parties, the only poll that counts, is the vote in November.

Let the people go to the voting booth armed with the awareness of "I.L.A.C."

I would like to see "I.L.A.C." on every ballot in the country.
You can help.

It is doable, simple, and inexpensive to put a place on our ballot, so that we can vote "none of the above", "I.L.A.C.".
It can be done prior to the 2012 elections.
If the politicians or bureaucrats won't do it, write in," I.L.A.C."

"I.L.A.C." works within the system provided by our founding fathers, to change our government when needed, at the "The ballot box."

Thanks to the power of the internet the idea of "I.L.A.C.", can be spread about this different choice, and the corrupt, self serving politicians can't stop it.

I believe, that just the awareness that people are considering " I.L.A.C." will cause the politicians to be more careful when making campaign promises.
If not, we will keep sending them home until someone "GETS IT".

Thank you politician for spending all that money and supporting the economy. "NEXT".

If a super majority vote "I.L.A.C." on any candidates, in any race, no matter their party affiliation.
It means , to quote a Trumpisim, "You are Fired.".

We are hiring people for the most important jobs in the world here, " Next."

Please read this article,

Minority rules: Scientists discover tipping point for the spread of ideas.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-m...

This should be disconcerting to corrupt politicians, and those who scoff.

A peaceful revolution is possible, local, state and federal, "I.L.A.C.", though I doubt it will happen.
Florida is the state that amended it's constitution to protect pregnant pigs.

chrysf56 writes:

did any of you read this WSJ Article on Sunday:

A Debt Hole Too Big to Fill
http://on.wsj.com/zgk9Z0

We're doing better than Europe precisely because Obama didn't drink the Koolaid. Austerity and spending cuts are exactly the opposite of what we needed to do 2 years ago. The stimulus NEEDED to be TRILLIONS of dollars, and because of the GOP & Tea Party nonsense, the grownups in the room saw that would be a political impossibility. So, they passed a stimulus about 1/4 the size they needed and the Fed has been trying to make up the balance by injecting trilions into the financial sector - which ironically helps first those who are most responsible for this mess in the first place.

<------- personally, what I am fed up with is s----- people. Particularly those who think that Fox runs news rather than being the Pravda of the 1%.

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

in response to chrysf56:

did any of you read this WSJ Article on Sunday:

A Debt Hole Too Big to Fill
http://on.wsj.com/zgk9Z0

We're doing better than Europe precisely because Obama didn't drink the Koolaid. Austerity and spending cuts are exactly the opposite of what we needed to do 2 years ago. The stimulus NEEDED to be TRILLIONS of dollars, and because of the GOP & Tea Party nonsense, the grownups in the room saw that would be a political impossibility. So, they passed a stimulus about 1/4 the size they needed and the Fed has been trying to make up the balance by injecting trilions into the financial sector - which ironically helps first those who are most responsible for this mess in the first place.

<------- personally, what I am fed up with is s----- people. Particularly those who think that Fox runs news rather than being the Pravda of the 1%.

when was the Stimulus passed 2009- why do you think the tea party was formed and elected in 2010-good time line you follow

Vandelay writes:

I attended the Romney event. That was a nice touch having the cameramen placed strategically so 2 thirds of the people there couldn't see candidate Romney. I went to the event to SEE Romney not the backside of 8 cameramen. I'll vote for Romney if it's between him and Obama but I never have been impressed with Romney and that total lack of regard for the people that showed up doesn't give me alot of confidence he would put together a competent team to govern if his group can't do better than what I saw yesterday.

Stella_Blue (Inactive) writes:

Republican voters----->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4x9RR...

Dogs soulmate?

tried_n_true writes:

Brown Eye is an appropriate name.... everything that comes out of it is crapiola.

tried_n_true writes:

what is "crapiola", NDN ??? LMAO

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

in response to No_bull_for_you:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

are you talking about the cost of the trip or the cost of all the material in the lingerie???

Lemme writes:

Romney is a 1% er. He has NO clue what the average person experiences regarding the lack of a job, health insurance, putting a kid through college, nothing.

Ed_Foster writes:

This is who needs to be running for president. Although, some might say he is racist...

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/vide...

Twolffe writes:

in response to ISPEAKFORGOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Exellent observation; Mitt loves to send other peoples sons and daughters to war but his sons and he himself fled to France to avoid serving in Vietnam. He is a flip floper and a major hypocrite.

Twolffe writes:

in response to Brown_Eye:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So republicans object to investment in USA innovations? that is right keep sending them to China or India.

almasonlybar writes:

in response to Lemme:

Romney is a 1% er. He has NO clue what the average person experiences regarding the lack of a job, health insurance, putting a kid through college, nothing.

You mean like JFK and FDR?

woods311 writes:

in response to Ed_Foster:

This is who needs to be running for president. Although, some might say he is racist...

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/vide...

If we send this first batch home with "I.L.A.C.",
he might have a chance.
Sooner or later, someone will get it.

Lemme writes:

in response to patriotNE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must be a 1%'r to be prominent. Therefore, back in your cave 99%!!

Redshoulderedhawk writes:

Romney tells a group of unemployed folks struggling to put food on the table that he can relate, because he too is unemployed! And he only made $47 million that year! And paid just 15% taxes! What a common man! Go Mitt! To which of your six mansions do I send your sympathy card?

tampacoco writes:

in response to Redshoulderedhawk:

Romney tells a group of unemployed folks struggling to put food on the table that he can relate, because he too is unemployed! And he only made $47 million that year! And paid just 15% taxes! What a common man! Go Mitt! To which of your six mansions do I send your sympathy card?

You got that right on!

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