TODAY | January 30, 2012
>> let's begin with mitt romney 's surge in florida one day before the state's republican primary . nbc's peter alexander is in miami. good morning.
>> reporter: good morning to you. you spoke about romney 's lead in the state. this is the biggest prize yet. already 460,000 floridians have voted by absentee or early voting. in conversations with senior advisers in the romney campaign they say they have two things well since south carolina . one, be more aggressive against newt gingrich and do a better job clarifying the message that they believe romney is the best candidate to improve the american economy .
>> thank you!
>> reporter: just one day to go before florida 's primary and mitt romney is sensing victory.
>> i believe america needs a leader who has led successfully. i have and i will lead this nation back to greatness.
>> reporter: he has reason for confidence. the latest nbc marist poll released sunday shows romney expanding his lead in florida to 15 points over newt gingrich . that may be why gingrich is sharpening his attack. dusting off a word designed to incite conservatives.
>> i am, in fact, the legitimate heir of the reagan movement, not some liberal from massachusetts. we do not want a massachusetts liberal . this party is not going to nominate somebody who is a proabortion, progun control.
>> reporter: romney is dismissing the attacks as desperate.
>> the people of florida have watched the debates, have listened to the speaker, have listened to other candidates who say, you know what? mitt romney is the guy we are going to support.
>> reporter: the miami herald endorsed mitt romney saying mr. gingrich might be the feistier candidate but if republicans care about elect ability in november, mr. romney is the better choice. herman cain came out in support of gingrich .
>> i hereby officially and enthusiastically endorse newt gingrich for president of the united states .
>> reporter: while still refusing to endorse anyone, sarah palin defiantly implored floridians to fight the establishment.
>> rage against the machine , vote newt. annoy a liberal, vote newt. keep the vetting process going. keep the debate going.
>> reporter: gingrich says he's going all the way.
>> this is going all the way to the convention.
>> reporter: rick santorum 's oldest daughter took her father's case while he left the field to be with his daughter bella who suffers from a rare genetic disorder and was hospitalized over the weekend.
>> he'll be back as soon as he can. right now family comes first being a dad and a husband.
>> reporter: rick santorum expects to be back on the campaign trail within a few days. he said bella is having a miraculous recovery and has turned a corner after being hospitalized. matt?
>> peter, thank you.