Gingrich: Santorum's Ill. Loss Shows He's Not Conservative Alternative

Wednesday, 21 Mar 2012 04:43 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich says Rick Santorum’s double-digit loss in the Illinois primary shows he is not the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney — and he can’t defeat President Barack Obama. The former House speaker also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday night that he is staying in the race because he is that alternative — and he can win in November.
 
“Governor Romney had a pretty good day — I think he took a step toward clearly proving he was the front-runner. Senator Santorum didn’t have a particularly good day,” Gingrich said. “This is the third time now he has tried an industrial Midwestern union state and not succeeded. And I think that the conservatives have to think through the right strategy if they hope to stop Romney.
 
“We are faced, I think, with a very serious challenge, in terms of who can beat Barack Obama — that, in the end, is what this is all about,” he said. “So I’m staying in the race because I really do think it's a question of who can beat Barack Obama.”

Speaking from Louisiana, the site of the next presidential contest Saturday, Gingrich noted his call for a total change in the nation’s energy policy — and $2.50-a-gallon gasoline — is resonating with the American public and drawing White House attention.

“I think the case I’m making on gasoline, the case I’m making on an American energy policy, is effective,” Gingrich said. “If you watch the White House, for two weeks now, we have had them responding. The president spent his Saturday speech attacking my proposal to get gasoline below $2.50.

“I think here in Louisiana, I am making the case that this is an administration, which asked the Saudis to pump more oil, when they should be asking Louisiana and Texas to pump more oil. Obama’s putting jobs in Saudi Arabia that ought to be jobs in Louisiana,” he continued. “He is sending money to Saudi Arabia that should be sent to Louisiana. I think we can make a very strong case for beating Obama based on his very, very bad energy policies.”

Hannity asked the former House speaker, who has garnered far fewer delegates than Romney or Santorum, how he can shift the momentum in the upcoming primaries and grab the nomination at the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa.

“Sean, it’s going to be a two-part process . . . phase one has to be stopping Romney because the fact is if he gets 1,144 votes, he’s the nominee, fair and square — it’s over,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if as voters look at this — as happened last week, for example, in Mississippi and in Alabama, as happened the previous week in Kansas — if people say, no, they don’t want Romney, then I think you get to a situation after June 26, where there is a 60-day conversation.

“Santorum won’t have a majority, I won’t have a majority, Romney won’t, Ron Paul won’t — if that’s what happens, then we will have a real conversation about who can best beat Barack Obama. I think that most Republicans agree that if the key is to debate the president, he will have a billion-dollar campaign fund,” he said. “If the key is who can take him on head to head, I think I am proving every day with this energy campaign, that I can take on Obama, that I can design strategies that put him in a huge disadvantage.”

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