Romney way ahead, Gingrich on attack in Fla.

Newt Gingrich stumping for votes in Florida
Newt Gingrich stumping for votes in Florida

With new polls showing Mitt Romney surging and New Gingrich plummeting ahead of Tuesday's Republican presidential primary in Florida, Gingrich is on the attack -- and it's personal -- with the former House speaker raising questions about the character and integrity of the former Massachusetts governor.

On "ABC This Week" Sunday, Gingrich asked of his rival, "Why can't you be candid with the American people? You cannot be president of the United States if you cannot be honest and candid with the American people."

On Fox News Sunday, Gingrich remarked, "I don't know how you debate a person in the civil, being civil, when he stands there and just blatantly doesn't tell the truth."

Special section: Election 2012

The attacks drew ire from the Romney campaign, and the candidate himself answered back in an interview Sunday Night with CBS News political director John Dickerson.

"Speaker Gingrich," said Romney, "is not revealing himself to be the kind of person I think he would want to be seen in this race for president, because fundamentally, we look for qualities in a president, but we don't look for whining and excuses."

Gingrich came into Florida a week ago on top of the polls and with all the momentum. Even an interview by his second ex-wife, Marianne, claiming Gingrich wanted an open marriage to continue an affair with a woman who now is his third wife, didn't seem to dent his support. He scored a landslide victory in South Carolina.

But after two weak debate performances last week and stepped-up attacks by Romney, Gingrich has slipped badly - especially among female voters. In South Carolina's primary, Gingrich won the female vote, but in a Miami Herald poll, Romney is up among women by 19 points.

Gingrich's personal history is apparently having more of an impact here with conservative voters than it did elsewhere.

"We all forgive. We do," Pensacola, Fla. voter Francis Lewellen Johnson, 74, told CBS News. "But I just cannot vote for a man with that kind of baggage. I cannot do it."

To see Jan Crawford's full report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Jan Crawford
    Jan Crawford On Twitter»

    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent.