Newt Gingrich dramatically upped the ante on Mitt Romney, vowing he
will fight Romney all the way to the Republican convention this summer in Tampa -- no matter what happens in Fla. this Tuesday.
“I will go all the way to the convention. I expect to win the nomination," Gingrich told Politico.
Gingrich said he will take his campaign against Romney "state by state" and won't quit the race.
Gingrich's promise to take on Romney despite any one state loss means the Republican primary fight could be long and bloody. It may also prove a nightmare for Romney, who has consistently failed to garner more than 30 percent of the GOP vote in national polls.
Meanwhile, if Rick Santorum or Ron Paul drop out, their support may coalesce around Gingrich.
Gingrich's move may also solidify conservative support, since some leaders feared after a loss in Fla. Gingrich might have quit the race.
A Gingrich adviser tells Newsmax the former Speaker just triggered the "Reagan option" -- referring to Reagan's decision in 1976 to fight Gerald Ford all the way to Republican convention, held in Kansas City that year.
During that hotly contested race, Reagan had lost every Republican primary in the opening states -- and had little cash and almost no establishment support. But in March 1976, Reagan won the North Carolina primary and went on to win every remaining primary leading up to the Convention.
In the end, Reagan came within a handful of votes of snatching the nomination from Ford. But conservatives lauded Reagan for his bold stand and his desire to move the party to a more conservative approach. His 1976 loss laid the groundwork for his 1980 comeback and a resurgence of Goldwater conservatism in the party.
"This is bad news for Romney, for Santorum and good news for conservatives and for Gingrich," Craig Shirley, author of a book about Reagan's 1976 campaign and conservative commentator.
"It demonstrates a sophistication and depth on Gingrich’s part that eludes Romney, who conservatives see as shallow and an out of touch elitist," he said.
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