Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday that he has no plans to drop out of the presidential race, even as he continues to struggle at the bottom of the GOP pack.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

“I think the morning that he gets 1,144 that are locked down, then I think he can claim to be the nominee,” Gingrich said. “But until then, don’t think he can be the nominee.”

Politico’s Dylan Byers reported Monday afternoon that Gingrich has lost the final two fulltime print reporters following his campaign, leaving primarily TV network embeds covering his campaign from stop-to-stop.

Some prominent Republicans, including supporters of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, have called on Gingrich to exit the race to allow the anti-Romney vote to coalesce around Santorum. But Gingrich said Monday that “this is not over ‘til it’s over.”

“Obviously, if (Romney) becomes the nominee, I will support him. . . . If he doesn’t win the nomination, then it’s going to be wide open and then we’re going to have a conversation for those 60 days,” he said, referring to the length of time between the last nominating contest in June and the national convention in August.

Asked about Santorum’s viability in the race, Gingrich responded that “he doesn’t have a guaranteed lock any more than I do or Mitt Romney does.”

Gingrich also defended his criticism of President Obama’s response last week to the Trayvon Martin case. Obama campaign senior adviser David Plouffe had hammered Gingrich on Sunday for his criticism of Obama, calling the former speaker’s remarks “reprehensible.”

“I think he should show empathy for that family,” Gingrich said, asked whether he thought Obama should not have shown empathy for Martin’s parents. “I think he should show empathy for any family. . . I stick with what I said.”

Gingrich was in Delaware on Monday, and is expected to spend the rest of the week holding events in the District and Maryland ahead of next week’s primaries, according to his spokesman.