LADY LAKE, Fla. — During an afternoon speech at The Villages, a vast retiree complex here Sunday, Newt Gingrich was suddenly energized as he railed against Wall Street and Washington, lumping them in as the establishment that wants to defeat him.
“I do not believe Wall Street can give enough money to run enough negative ads to hide from the truth,” he declared. “The truth is we’ve been served badly, the American people, by the establishment in this country in both parties — let’s be clear about it — in both parties. And it’s time somebody stood up for hard-working, taxpaying Americans and said ‘enough!’ And if that makes the old order uncomfortable, my answer is, good!”
By this point he was practically yelling. And the audience of about 4,000 people, most of them retirees standing under a blistering sun in the middle of a vast parking lot, was applauding enthusiastically.
Mr. Gingrich mentioned Herman Cain‘s endorsement of him Saturday and another big cheer rose up. He said Mr. Cain’s support was “further proof that this is a grass-roots movement against the establishment.”
He said that Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael, would be traveling with him on Monday and would vouch for Mr. Gingrich’s closeness to his father. Almost more than anything, the charge by Mr. Romney that Mr. Gingrich has exaggerated his ties to the conservative icon has gotten under Mr. Gingrich’s skin.
“I am in fact the legitimate heir to the Reagan movement, not some liberal from Massachusetts,” Mr. Gingrich declared heatedly.
Afterward, several people who were interviewed said they either liked Mr. Gingrich or did not — no one seemed in between.
“He don’t care whose toes he steps on, he’s going after them,” Juanita Eads, 74, a member of the local Tea Party organization, said approvingly. “He’s going in there to fight for us, the people of this great land, that Obama is tearing apart.”
But she said she was not sure how effective the local organization was for Mr. Gingrich. Although she is an avid supporter, she learned only Friday about the Sunday event, she said, and she learned it through a Tea Party e-mail. She said that the local media and business establishments seemed to favor Mr. Romney and that his visit, on Monday, would be held in a more prominent place at The Villages.
Similarly, Pat and Bill Giarrusso, retirees from Boston who live here six months of the year, said they learned about the Gingrich event only on Thursday, through a local newspaper, whereas they have been reading about Mr. Romney’s impending visit “for weeks.” They are Romney supporters.
“Newt is too much of an insider,” said Mrs. Giarrusso, a former flight attendant. “He’s a wonderful debater, but I’m tired of the old politicians saying they’ll do things that they never do.”