If Newt Gingrich was feeling the butthurt after an avalanche of negative ads in Florida, a 15-point scorching sure won’t help the bruised feelings and ego.
Mitt Romney has won the Florida Republican presidential primary, Fox News projects.
The victory, in the GOP contest’s biggest state to date, is likely to give the former Massachusetts governor a burst of momentum as he and Newt Gingrich battle for the lead in what has become an increasingly negative race.
With 61 percent of precincts reporting, Romney is leading with 47 percent. Gingrich has 31 percent, followed by Rick Santorum with 13 percent and Ron Paul with 7 percent.
Romney is expected to win all 50 of Florida’s convention delegates.
Fox News also projects that Gingrich will finish second, followed by Rick Santorum in third and Ron Paul in last place.
The results mark a serious setback for the former House speaker, who trounced Romney just 10 days ago in South Carolina and was leading Romney in Florida polls as recently as last week.
With his Florida win, Romney is the only Republican candidate to have won two primaries. In a historical anomaly, the first three contests went to three different winners.
But the former House speaker is vowing a drawn-out battle for delegates as the Republican race heads next to Nevada, and then a batch of primaries in western and Midwestern states.
Asked Tuesday how close the race was to being over, Gingrich said, “I would probably say six months. I would say June or July, unless Romney drops out.”