- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 11, 2012

Newt Gingrich predicted he’ll win Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday and vowed he is in the running all the way to Tampa — in part, the former history professor said, because Mitt Romney “is probably the weakest Republican front-runner since Leonard Wood in 1920.”

Mr. Gingrich, who has won only two of the 25 state contests in the Republican nomination race so far, was upbeat two days before the showdowns in Alabama and Mississippi, where the latest polls have both races as tossups.

“I think we’ll win both. We are campaigning very aggressively on both states. As almost everywhere, you start a little behind because of Romney’s money and the length of time he’s advertising. And as you campaign, you catch up with him pretty rapidly, and I think we’re probably polling ahead in both states right now,” the former House speaker said.

Wood was an early favorite in the 1920 election, but came into the Republican National Convention short of the delegate total needed to win the nomination. After 10 rounds of voting, Republicans nominated Warren G. Harding instead.

Mr. Gingrich, who is running well behind Mr. Romney in the 2012 delegate count, indicated he may be counting on a similar scenario unfolding this year.

“I think there’s a space for a visionary conservative,” the former Georgia congressman said, predicting that the selection of a Republican candidate would extend beyond the end of the primaries.

“I think we are likely to see after the last primary in June, we’re likely to see a 60-day conversation about what’s going to happen,” said Mr. Gingrich, who finished third Saturday in the latest contest [-] the Kansas caucus won by former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Fresh from his Kansas win, Mr. Santorum again said Sunday that he can defeat Mr. Romney in a one-on-one contest, though he stopped short of explicitly repeating his campaign’s previous calls for Mr. Gingrich to quit the race and set up that scenario.

“I’d like everybody to get out. I mean, that’d be great if they could just clear the field. But, you know … the speaker can stay in as long as, as long as he wants,” Mr. Santorum said on “Meet the Press.”

“But I think … the better opportunity to make sure that we nominate a conservative is to give us an opportunity to go head-to-head with Gov. Romney.”

But Mr. Gingrich said he and Mr. Santorum offer two differing brands of conservatism.

On Fox News, Mr. Gingrich reiterated his criticism of Mr. Santorum’s comment in a debate last month that he “took one for the team” while serving in the Senate by voting for bills he did not support.

“I’m not running in order to go along to get along,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And frankly, the leadership team that Rick was in suffered a disastrous loss in 2006, because the country didn’t want bigger deficits, more earmarks, ‘the bridge to nowhere,’ and those kinds of things.”

Mr. Gingrich said he would deliver on his campaign stump promise of $2.50 gas “within two years, maybe faster.”

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