Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may well lose Tuesday’s Florida primary to Mitt Romney, though that’s not a slam dunk given the former House speaker’s comeback in the latest polls. But, in any case, Gingrich’s campaign has staying power, Politico
He’s in it for the long haul and anticipates entering the GOP convention in August with a strong hand. Someone who knows Gingrich pretty well warns it would be foolish to underestimate his tenacity.
“He lost his first two races before he won in ’78,” his daughter, Jackie Cushman, noted to Politico. “He just perseveres. I think of him as the Energizer bunny — he just keeps going.”
Gingrich reasons that former Massachusetts Gov. Romney won’t be able to attain a majority of delegates by the convention. Gingrich’s camp is targeting favorable states holding primaries in March and April — Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.
With winner-take-all primaries forbidden before April, Gingrich can gain sizable amounts of delegates under the proportional system, even when he receives fewer votes than Romney. The Gingrich team also sees a restive conservative Republican base swinging to his side.
His campaign points out that after Florida, just 115, or 5 percent, of the 2,288 total delegates will have been allocated. “The proportional nature of the upcoming contests essentially guarantees that no candidate will secure the nomination anytime soon, and the map gets better for us as we get deeper into the calendar,” Gingrich adviser Kellyanne Conway told Politico.
As for Gingrich’s own assessment, “When you take all the non-Romney votes, it’s very likely that at the convention there will be a non-Romney majority and maybe a very substantial one,” he told reporters Sunday. “My job is to convert that into a Gingrich majority.”
Not surprisingly, the Republican establishment is frightened. “I think it could go on quite a while, which would not be to our benefit,” Sen. John McCain, a Romney backer, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
At the very least, Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul should have some influence at the convention proceedings. That will be “a real pill to swallow,” one senior Republican told Politico.
Another GOP heavyweight worries about déjà vu all over again from the 1992 convention, when Pat Buchanan, who had already lost to President George H.W. Bush, delivered a feisty speech that overshadowed the incumbent president.
Gingrich himself isn’t too worried that a knockdown, drag-out fight between him and Romney will weaken the party. “The long campaign between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led them to win the presidency,” he points out. “There’s no reason a long campaign has to be a bad thing.”
One issue is clear, Gingrich has no problem running from behind. Twice already during the campaign he has been left for dead only to rise like Lazarus to fight another battle. So losing Florida might be no big deal.
Another factor favoring Gingrich if he loses in Florida is that primary/caucus victories haven’t generated much momentum so far. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum didn’t gain any strength in New Hampshire after winning in Iowa. And Romney flopped in South Carolina after winning in New Hampshire.
Even a big Romney victory Tuesday might not mean much.
A key issue now for Gingrich is bringing in the greenbacks to finance a strong campaign going forward. The campaign released a statement Sunday night saying it is “now in a position where we will be able to respond to Romney’s ads in every state moving forward.”
It’s important for Team Gingrich to attract more money from casino/hotel titan Sheldon Adelson for its Winning Our Future super PAC
Gingrich also must avoid getting consumed by the barrage of attacks against him from Romney supporters. The former House speaker does better when he pushes his own message rather than getting bogged down in the negative accusations hurled at him.
“This is a campaign about the future of America and the future of the Republican Party,” he told reporters Sunday, stressing that he will usher in “very dramatic change in Washington.”
Such a message can help draw in tea partyers and popular anti-establishment leaders such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has urged Florida voters to cast their ballots for Newt.
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