Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 03/07/2012

Newt Gingrich intensifies Deep South strategy, shifting resources to Alabama, Mississippi

This story has been updated.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Newt Gingrich is canceling campaign events scheduled for Kansas at the end of the week to shore up support in the Deep South. The former House speaker plans to pour his time and resources into Alabama and Mississippi.

“Everything between Spartanburg all the way to Texas, those all need to go for Gingrich,” said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond.

The candidate’s bus, his rallies and campaign events will be trained on a southern strategy intent on winning the two states that will hold their primaries next week and then moving on to Texas. Gingrich’s two wins so far in the Republican presidential nomination contest have come in southern states: South Carolina and Georgia.

Gingrich plans to continue to talk about energy and gas prices, putting ads on air about his pledge for $2.50 per gallon gas.

Campaign aides also brushed off suggestions by supporters of Rick Santorum that Gingrich drop out of the race to allow conservatives to coalesce behind one candidate in opposition to Mitt Romney.

“All of the logic being used by the Santorum campaign is simply reversed and it could be used on Rick Santorum,” Hammond said. “We’ll argue, Santorum is splitting Mitt Romney’s moderate vote.”

The GOP primary will go on for many more months, Hammond said. “We’ll stick in the race.”

In a radio interview Wednesday morning, Gingrich himself made clear that he has no plans to get out of the Republican primary, allowing Santorum to face Romney in a head-to-head match up.

“If I thought he was a slam dunk to beat Romney and to beat Obama, I would really consider getting out. I don’t,” Gingrich said on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show Wednesday. “I think each of the three candidates has strengths and weaknesses and that this is a very healthy vetting process.”

Gingrich described himself as a “tortoise” moving slowly but steadily toward the nomination as he hailed his victory in Georgia on Super Tuesday.

Gingrich was greeted in Montgomery by an enthusiastic crowd in the downtown Renaissance Hotel, where a banner hung reading “Promise of a Newt Day.” But before Gingrich took the stage his backdrop crashed down.

Gingrich looks at the Republican strongholds of Alabama and Mississippi as “Gingrich country” — places “where you can sniff out what a conservative is,” Hammond said.

By  |  11:55 AM ET, 03/07/2012

Tags:  Newt Gingrich, Super Tuesday, presidential election, Republican Party

 
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