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“I think Romney is the most electable, and I think he can beat Obama,” she said before commenting on Mr. Gingrich’s personal history, which includes multiple divorces and adulteries.

“I think Gingrich has too much baggage. I think Democrats are just champing at the bit to have him run so they can destroy him. I think Mitt’s pretty squeaky clean,” she said.

The CNN exit poll also suggested that this was a broad problem. Mr. Romney defeated Mr. Gingrich among married Florida women by 51 percent to 28 percent.

Karen Dearolf said she studied the candidates with her husband, prayed and eventually came to the conclusion that she would vote for Mr. Romney. She also alluded to theological issues with Mr. Romney’s Mormonism that have hurt him with voters such as her in the past.

“I’m a Southern Baptist, and I’m voting for Romney. That’s kind of unique, because I see a lot of people who are having difficulty with that,” she said. “I understand where people are coming from, but again I’m voting for a president, I’m not voting for a pastor. I think there is a difference there.”

She also showered Mr. Romney wife, Ann, with praise and — in another veiled shot at Mr. Gingrich’s personal lifestyle — said Mr. Romney showed he was a “person of integrity” by standing by his wife after her diagnoses of multiple sclerosis in 1998 and breast cancer in 2008.

The race now starts to spread out into more states, a calendar that will challenge some of the more poorly funded candidates such as Mr. Gingrich, who has limited resources and depends in large part on debates to get out his message.

Mr. Romney, meanwhile, stands to benefit, after consistently showing the ability to rake in campaign cash, which allowed him to run several television and radio ads here in the state’s costly media market.

The Kantar Media’s CMG, which tracks campaign spending, said Tuesday that Mr. Romney and his allies funneled more than $15 million into television ads, just one of which was positive — and it was in Spanish. Overall, the group found that 92 percent of the ads aired here were negative.

But if his victory speech was any indication, Mr. Romney plans to pivot from attacking Mr. Gingrich to criticizing Mr. Obama.

“In his State of the Union Address, the president actually said, ‘Let’s remember how we got here.’ Don’t worry, Mr. President, we remember exactly how we got here! You won the election!” Mr. Romney said Tuesday night.

“Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses. In another era of American crisis, Thomas Paine is reported to have said, ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’ Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow, and now it’s time for you to get out of the way!” he said.

For his part, Mr. Gingrich also spoke in “when I am president” terms, speaking about what he’ll do on his first day as president. Mr. Gingrich said he will ask Congress to stay in session to repeal three laws [-] the president’s health care law, the Sarbanes-Oxley law regulating the securities industry and the Dodd-Frank law governing Wall Street reforms and consumer protection.

“My goal is to have all three bills sitting there waiting so the minute I am sworn in, I can sign all three, and we’re off to a pretty good opening morning,” Mr. Gingrich said.

He also managed to toss a barb at the singing abilities of both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama, saying, “I’m not going to compete with Obama in singing because I’m not running for entertainer in chief, I’m running for president. Mr. President, you cannot sing your way past the disaster of your presidency.”

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