Speaking in friendly territory -- before a tea party crowd of about 500 in Central Florida's bucolic Mount Dora -- the former House Speaker savaged Mitt Romney, the campaign ads that have been pillorying Gingrich across the state -- and his own Republican party.
Gingrich wasted little time in criticizing Romney as he took to the stage, decrying the "attack ads and all sorts of junk" and charging that Romney is hypocritical for attacking him for Freddie Mac when he has stock in it.
"He thinks we're going to back down, I don't think so," he said.
"This is the desperate last stand of the old order, throwing the kitchen sink, hoping something sticks because if only they can drown us in enough mud -- raised with money from companies and people who foreclosed on Floridians," he said. He charged Romney and his super PAC ads were "paid for with the money taken by the people of Florida, by companies like Goldman Sachs."
But Gingrich, who had been surging in the Florida polls, said the race is now "very close" and that he believes the "weight of the negative ads" and what he called Romney's "dishonesty," had "hurt us some."
He called on the tea partiers to start working harder. "This group alone is big enough to start to turn this around," he said, declaring he wouldn't allow the "monied interests" to defeat him.
Gingrich is clearly banking on support from Florida's tea party -- which helped elect Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in 2010 and he thanked the crowd, some of whom wore tea party t-shirts.
"I think you represent citizens who are sick and tired of being told by Washington what to do and sick and tired of watching your country decay because the power structure in Washington doesn't want to make any changes," he said. "They would rather manage the decay as long as they stay in charge. We're here to tell them that their time is over."
He accused Romney of hypocrisy, charging that Romney owns "lots of stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," "lots of stock in a Goldman Sachs unit "that was explicitly foreclosing on Floridians" and is "surrounded by lobbyists" who defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yet has built "his entire negative campaign in Florida around a series of ads that are just plain false.
"They're counting on us being too stupid or too timid," he said.
He also railed against the GOP establishment, calling it "just as much an establishment as the Democratic establishment.
"And they are just as determined to stop us," he said. "Make no bones about it, this is a campaign for the very nature of the Republican party and the very opportunity for a citizen conservatism to defeat the power of money and to prove that people matter more than money than Wall Street and people matter more than all the big companies that are pouring cash into Romney ads that are false."
He says he ran an entirely positive campaign and was "drowned in a sea of mud" in Iowa, "mud paid for with special interest money...and a candidate who is willing to say anything and do anything to be president that the truth doesn't matter."
He said the GOP can't beat Obama with a candidate "who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts.."
He charged Romney with looking to masquerade as a conservative, noting that when he was "workingwith Ronald Reagan, Romney "was a money making independent" who voted for Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas.
"The message we should give Mitt Romney is 'We aren't that stupid and you aren't that clever," he said.
He defended his work for Freddie Mac, saying the "only thing I ever did that was publicly recorded...was to tell the House Republicans to vote no, don't give them any money."
He saved a little of his pique for President Obama (Saul Alinsky, European-style government, etc.) and Democrats saying they "either doesn't know what they're saying or they just don't care what damage they're doing to the economy."
The crowd voted for "Don't Care."