Republican presidential candidates used housing issues in Florida to trump up their bona fides in separate addresses Tuesday.[IMAGE]
With nearly all precincts reporting in Florida, former Gov. ""Mitt Romney"":http://www.mittromney.com/ (R-Massachusetts) routed former House speaker and rival ""Newt Gingrich"":http://www.newt.org/ by 46.4 percent to 31.9 percent.
Former Sen. ""Rick Santorum"":http://www.ricksantorum.com/ (R-Pennsylvania) and Rep. ""Ron Paul"":http://www.ronpaul2012.com/ (R-Texas) walked away with 13.4 percent and 7 percent of the vote, respectively.
Reporting by multiple news outlets showed that the Dodd-Frank Act, big banks, and foreclosures all made appearances in addresses by Gingrich and Romney.
Delivering an address that notably lacked any reference to his rival's victory, Gingrich extolled his pro-market views to voters by pledging to repeal the Obama administration's 2010 financial reform law.
If elected, ""I will ask them [Congress] to immediately pass the repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill, which is killing housing, killing small businesses, and killing independent banks,"" he said.
He tried to avoid talk of an end to his campaign by framing it as a ""two-person race"" with Romney. Behind[COLUMN_BREAK]
Gingrich, supporters touted signs that read ""46 States to Go.""
For his part, Romney turned his focus to President ""Barack Obama"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama and the general election by saying that ""more Americans have lost their jobs and more home foreclosures have occurred than during the administration of any other president in history.""
He recounted the story of ""a father who was terrified that this would be the last night he and his family would sleep in the only home that his son has ever known"" and said of Obama: ""Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses.""
Housing reentered a season known for numerous debates once the Romney campaign, reeling from a Gingrich victory in South Carolina last week, began to air ads that endeavored to tie the former House speaker and his $1.6-million consulting contract with Freddie Mac to the housing and foreclosure crises in Florida.
Numerous analysts credit the wave of negative ads with helping the former Masschusetts governor head off a primary threat from Gingrich.
A looming primary in Nevada, where analysts say Romney will benefit from a heavy Mormon population, may give the candidates an opportunity to drag housing back into a political debate.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader ""Harry Reid"":http://reid.senate.gov/ (D-Nevada) joined two other former officials from the state by criticizing Romney for his housing views in a column published by the ""Las Vegas Sun"":http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/feb/01/reid-romneys-ideas-are-wrong-nevada/.
""The last time Romney came here, he told homeowners facing foreclosure that we should stand back and let the crisis ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôhit the bottom' so investors can come in and make a quick buck,"" the three wrote. ""We would rather have a president with empathy for the people who live in those houses, not for the speculators who want to flip them.""