TAMPA, Fla. (CBSDFW.COM) – After a big loss in South Carolina, Mitt Romney scored a major comeback in Florida, soundly beating Newt Gingrich.

In Tampa, Romney thanked his cheering supporters,”for this great victory.”

The former Massachusetts governor spent $16 million  on TV ads attacking the former house speaker.  “A competitve primary does not divide us, it prepares us and we will win,” Romney told his supporters Tuesday night.

Speaking to his supporters, Gingrich repeated he’s not throwing in the political towel — and will stay in the race until the convention this August. “It is now clear this will be a two person race between the conservative leader, Newt Gingrich and a Massachusetts moderate.”

And for the first time since he dropped out of the presidential race, Governor Rick Perry gave an interview to a Florida TV station.  He said Gingrich is the only one who can work in the shark tank that is Washington, D.C. “I think Newt not only has the ability to operate in the shark tank, but kill the shark.”

But political analyst John Weekley says Romney’s victory shows conservatives are willing to vote for him because they think he may be the only Republican who can beat the president.   “I think the conservatives and the repubilcan party are primarily looking for somebody who can take the ball and go all the way down the field with it.”

And while Romney may not be their first choice, Republicans in North Texas say if he’s the nominee, they will vote for him.  “Because i’d like to see a republican elected president.” said Republican Susie Feldman.

Amy Calstrom agrees, “In the presidential election, I will be there to vote Republican.”

Romney now wins all of Florida’s 50 delegates — bringing his total to 87.

Gingrich has 26 delegates.

The winner needs 1,144 delegates to win the nomination.  It’s a long way off, which is why Gingrich is staying in — But Romney clearly has big momentum.