Newt Gingrich suffered a huge loss Tuesday, but the former speaker told a crowd of supporters in Orlando that he wouldn't give up, saying: "This is the most important election of your lifetime."
Even as the disappointing results showed Romney with a landslide victory in Florida, upbeat music still thumped through the room at Gingrich's campaign party at Orlando's Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive. Video screens carried a hopeful message: "46 States To Go."
"We're going to have people power defeat money power in the next six months," Gingrich vowed, adding that it would be a "disaster" for this country if President Barack Obama is re-elected.
"We believe it is cheating our grandchildren not to insist on fundamental change in Washington even if the establishment doesn't like it," Gingrich told a cheering crowd of about 200 people.
In a last-minute bid for votes, Gingrich crisscrossed Central Florida before the polls closed Tuesday, including stops in Windermere, Celebration and Polk County.
Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, Gingrich's campaign co-chairman in Florida, said the former speaker was hurt by the nonstop barrage of negative TV ads from Mitt Romney and his super PAC. But Romney can't maintain that level of attack, he said.
"Romney cannot keep that pace of spending up in other states -- it's not possible; he doesn't have the resources," McCollum said. "And Newt's coming back with good resources. He's getting good fundraising right now. And I think you're going to see him very competitive going forward."
There were nearly as many reporters and news cameras as Gingrich supporters at the campaign party. But despite the poor showing at the polls, few of his die-hard fans were ready to write him off and throw their support to Romney.
Sue Gibbs, a retired schoolteacher from Sarasota County who was covered with pro-Newt buttons and wore a hat topped by a stuffed elephant, said she hasn't given any thought to abandoning Gingrich.
"Even if you don't win the first game, you still go for the Super Bowl," Gibbs said. "[Gingrich] is smart, he's articulate and he's got the experience. Maybe some people don't like the experience he's had, but I think he's learned from it."
Likewise, there was little love for Romney.
"Mitt is a duplicate of Obama," said Diane Warren of Apopka. "He was the liberal governor of a liberal state. I don't trust him."
Even so, the "Newt 2012" T-shirts weren't selling well.
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