Mitt Romney seems to be turning up the heat as he attempts to bounce back from his South Carolina defeat. Just five days away from the Florida primary Romney came out of his corner fighting.
The Florida vote is too close to call at the moment afterwon last time out despite the slings and arrows of a scorned woman trying to talk him off track in his campaign to become the Republican presidential candidate.
Thursday saw the two candidates verbally duck, dive and punch in a red hot debate at Jacksonville's University of North Florida. Romney seemed slightly more spring-heeled than Gingrich as he launched a flurry of verbal jabs at 'The Newt'. This said Gingrich didn't really have to take a stand up count never mind a knockout punch from Romney.
Recent polls have Romney ahead but only just in the fight for Florida. This debate probably keeps him favorite for the moment despite all the bluff and bluster over his tax returns.
A point chiming with some of the tarmac tension between President Obama and Arizona's Governorwas an incendiary exchange between the two Republican candidates around immigrants. Gingrich accused Romney of being "anti-immigrant" which brough a powerful response from Romney saying:
"That's inexcusable, I'm not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. ... The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive. Don't use a term like that."
It seems that the issue of immigration is one that is going to continue playing big in the lead up to November's presidential election. Gingrich has taken a slightly softer line on immigration policy than Romney but conceded that he would consider some kind of policy that encouraged "self deportation".
Failing to make any any headway on the immigration front Gingrich turned his attention to Romney's vast wealth saying:
"I don't know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account. I'd be glad for you to explain that sort of thing,"
It should have been a chink in Romney's armour that Gingrich could exploit but he failed to follow through. On the night no sucker punch from either candidate but Gingrich spent more time than he would have liked on the ropes. Verdict? Most feel a big points win to Romney.
Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.