Gingrich, Romney in Near Dead Heat Race for Fla.

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A two-man fight between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich is shaping up ahead of next Tuesday's Florida primary.

The Florida race is proving to be more crucial than ever, since three of the four remaining GOP presidential candidates have each won a state so far.

On Thursday, Gingrich revved up the attacks against his closest opponent.

"We're not going to beat Obama with a guy who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island bank accounts, and thinks we're too stupid to know the difference," he said, referring to Romney.

Just two weeks ago, Romney had a substantial double-digit lead among potential voters in Florida. Now, the race is a dead heat.

A new CNN-Time magazine poll gave Gingrich 34 percent of the vote -- a 16 point gain in just one week. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they plan to vote for Romney.

Massive, enthusiastic crowds are now gathering at Gingrich campaign stops across the state.

"I just shook the hand of the next president of the United States!" one supporter exclaimed.

And Gingrich is showing his confident bravado, already talking about plans for his years in the White House.

"By the end of my second term, we will have a permanent base on the moon," he said.

The bitter fight for Florida is raging on television.

Romney and his allies are spending millions on television ads. Meanwhile, the Gingrich camp launched a $5 million ad campaign against the former governor.

Experts say the Republican establishment is wringing its hands over Gingrich's surge and growing potential to win the nomination.

"I don't care what the Washington establishment thinks of me because I'm going to change them," Gingrich said in response.

Candidates will gather Thursday night for the nineteenth Republican debate, the final debate before the Jan. 31 primary.

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at