Former House speaker Newt Gingrich campaigned Tuesday in Annapolis, where he spoke to the Maryland Senate, toured several small businesses – including a jewelry store owned by a Republican delegate – and blasted Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) proposal to raise the gasoline tax.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich receives a tour of the State House in Annapolis on Tuesday. He is pictured with Patricia Harrison, the General Assembly’s visitor coordinator. (Greg Masters/Washington Post)

Gingrich, whose visit comes one week ahead of the state’s April 3 Republican presidential primary, started with a private fundraiser at the Annapolis Sweet Shoppe in West Annapolis and then moved to the State House, where Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and senators of both parties applauded Gingrich’s brief remarks.

Gingrich was then given a brief tour of the historic State House before speaking to reporters, saying he intended to stay in the race despite his campaign’s financial troubles and Mitt Romney’s increasing lead in the delegate count.

“The money’s very tight, obviously,” Gingrich said, before adding, “We have the money to keep going.”

“If we get to June 26 and Governor Romney does not have a majority, I think you’ll then have one of the most interesting open conventions in American history,” he said.

Gingrich, who has promised to lower the price of gasoline to $2.50 a gallon, also took a shot at O’Malley’s proposal to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline – the most unpopular of at least a half-dozen tax and fee hikes the governor has proposed for the budget year beginning in July.

The plan “shows as much political insensitivity as you could imagine” and “strikes me as being very, very anti-everyday working American,” Gingrich said.

O’Malley, who encountered Gingrich briefly in the State House, tweeted a kind of riposte. “@RickSantorum & @NewtGingrich are in MD today. They should visit our GM Plant in Baltimore – they’re hiring.”

Gingrich followed his press conference with a tour of a jewelry store owned by Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel) and lunch at a popular local restaurant, Chick & Ruth’s Delly.

Gingrich was scheduled to speak at Salisbury University later in the day.