Republican Newt Gingrich vowed on Sunday to press ahead with his struggling presidential bid after a big loss in Nevada, saying he will focus on drawing a contrast with “timid” rival Mitt Romney.
Gingrich trailed in Nevada by a massive 25 per cent margin with almost three-quarters of precincts reporting – a second big loss within five days that raised questions about the viability of his longer-term challenge, Herald Sun reports.
The victory gave Romney growing momentum as the race turns to the next round contests on Tuesday – in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri – and Maine’s weeklong caucuses that conclude next Saturday.
According to Reuters, it also raised questions about Gingrich’s future, but the former House of Representatives speaker appeared on two national morning talk shows to repeat his vow to stay in the race despite big losses in Nevada and last week in Florida.
“Our goal is to get to Super Tuesday, where we’re in much more favourable territory,” Gingrich said on NBC’s Meet the Press, adding that he expects to do much better in conservative southern states like Georgia and Alabama.
“My goal over the next few weeks is to draw a very sharp distinction between Romney’s positions, which are very – the Wall Street Journal described them as timid – and in terms of tax policies, being like Obama,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I hope by the time we get to Super Tuesday that I will have made the case that a genuine conservative is a dramatically better choice to defeat Barack Obama,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The Republican establishment hopes the contest will be over well before the August 27-31 convention in Tampa, Florida, avoiding a bitter battle that could hurt the eventual nominee’s chances against Democratic President Barack Obama.
Romney’s Nevada victory followed a resounding win in Florida, and the multi-millionaire former venture capitalist and Massachusetts governor is now the clear front-runner to be taking on Obama in November’s general election.
That said, there are 437 delegates up for grabs on “Super Tuesday” – by contrast, Nevada awarded only 28 and Florida 50.
Gingrich said he hoped to pull close to even with Romney in delegates for the nomination after the Texas primary in early April.
Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling survey showed Romney with a comfortable 14-point lead in Colorado over Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, with Gingrich in third. In Minnesota, Santorum had a slight 2-point edge on Romney with Gingrich in third.
Rick Santorum said he believed he would pick up steam in the race as it moves beyond the first five contests and broadened to states where Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has not spent as much time organizing and campaigning.
“I think we’re going to show improvement. This race is a long, long way from being over,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We believe that if you look at the national polls, our numbers are moving up.”
Nevada residents voted on Saturday. With 71 per cent of ballots counted, Romney had 48 per cent of the vote – a decisive lead, although below the 50 per cent he earned in his 2008 presidential run.
Gingrich trailed with 23 per cent, Texas representative Ron Paul was third with 18 per cent, followed by Christian conservative Rick Santorum, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, with 11 per cent.
Paul said on ABC’s “This Week” he was not sure where he might score a victory in the race. Santorum and Gingrich have each won one state, Iowa and South Carolina respectively, while Romney has won New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada.
“It’s hard to say exactly when, but we have three or four caucus states that we believe our numbers are doing pretty good, so we have to just wait and see and continue to do exactly what we’re doing,” Paul said.
The Romney campaign went on the attack against Santorum on Sunday, issuing a statement to reporters renewing criticism of his record in the Senate backing spending bills and local spending projects known as earmarks.
“Rick Santorum is part of the big-spending Washington establishment that ran up the national debt by trillions and stuck our grandchildren with the bill,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
Gingrich and Santorum said Romney had failed to seal the deal with Republican voters and there was still room for another candidate to confront him.
“The challenge is to say, do you really want to go into a fall election with a moderate candidate?” Gingrich said. “The difference between timidly trying to manage at the margins a system that has to be profoundly changed and boldly taking it on, is a very, very big difference.”
#039;s Meet the Press, adding that he expects to do much better in conservative southern states like Georgia and Alabama. Photo: Patrick Gensel/Flickr”]