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Newt Gingrich to Rick Santorum supporters: Vote for me

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Former House speaker, whose campaign has collapsed, urges Santorum’s conservative followers to lend their support

Newt Gingrich has cheekily called on Rick Santorum’s supporters to throw their weight behind him to prevent Mitt Romney becoming the Republican presidential nominee.

Gingrich repeatedly split the rightwing vote with Santorum, allowing Romney to win state after state that he might otherwise have lost if faced with only one of them.

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Santorum, who won 11 states to only two taken by Gingrich, expressed frustration that there was no single candidate for conservatives to unite behind, and repeatedly urged Gingrich to stand aside.

But it is too late for either of them. Even with Santorum out of the race, Gingrich’s campaign collapsed last month when, portraying himself as a southern candidate, he failed to win either Mississippi or Alabama.

He has since only been going through the motions, with donations having dried up.

In a statement Tuesday, he praised Santorum for having fought a spirited campaign. He added: “I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice.

“I humbly ask Senator Santorum’s supporters to visit newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa. We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget.”

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In an interview with Fox on Sunday, Gingrich described Romney as “far and away the most likely Republican nominee”.

When he ceased campaigning in any meaningful sense, Gingrich said he hoped that there might still be a showdown if Romney fell short of the 1,144 majority of delegates needed in Tampa. But he admitted on Sunday that if that failed to happen, he would fall in behind Romney in the campaign against Obama.

Last month Gingrich was much more bullish about his prospects and dismissive of Romney’s status as frontrunner. He predicted that Romney would fail to secure the 1,144 delegates, that the decision would be brokered at the convention and that Romney was not much of a frontrunner, having done poorly in the Mississippi and Louisiana primaries.

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Jay Bookman, a columnist on the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, wrote recently: “He [Gingrich] has no money and in fact his campaign is deeply in debt. He lacks the resources to travel, let alone buy campaign ads, and the press has abandoned him, raising the age-old question: if a man utters pearls of profound wisdom, and no-one is there to hear him, did he really utter them at all? Yet still he presses on, insistent against all evidence that he remains relevant.”

Fox News labels Gingrich’s bid as “the zombie campaign”. The question now, is whether the zombie will finally lay down and die.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

[Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons-licensed]


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