Newt Gingrich won a solid victory in his home state of Georgia on Tuesday, keeping his campaign alive to see another day.
Despite the candidate's best efforts to sweep the South and inject another round of momentum into his flagging campaign, Georgia was the only state Gingrich managed to win on Super Tuesday. Even so, he made it clear he isn't going anywhere.
The former House of Representatives speaker, addressing a crowd at the same hotel where in 1994 he learned Republicans would take back the House for the first time in 40 years, referenced a children's fable to illustrate the pace of his up-and-down candidacy.
There are lots of bunny rabbits that have run through. I'm the tortoise, Gingrich said. I just take one step at a time.
It was another indication of Gingrich's intent to stay in the race until the bitter end, even though he has won just one other presidential primary -- South Carolina's in January.
While the Georgia win kept him in the ring, it should be noted that it came after Gingrich had spent most of the previous week campaigning in an area he represented in Congress for 20 years. The ex-speaker would have been crushed if he hadn't locked in his home state. He had already sacrificed potential victories in Tennessee and Oklahoma that would have bolstered his supposed dominance in the South and frame him as the sole conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.
Gingrich's losses in those states were significant. Both Tennessee and Oklahoma went to Rick Santorum, who was closely followed in both instances by Mitt Romney. Besides Georgia, Gingrich finished third or fourth in the eight other states in which he competed. (He failed to get on the ballot in Virginia).
Still, during his victory speech Tuesday night in Atlanta, Gingrich was soliciting contributions to his campaign via Newt.org, reiterating his claim that he's the only GOP candidate who has the ability to debate Barack Obama decisively, and introducing a new campaign focus to the American public.
Gingrich's energy plan, inspired by the media attention on rising gasoline prices, focuses on one idea: Newt Gingrich will make gas cheaper if he is president.
Standing at a podium tagged with his new catch phrase 250 -- he has pledged a gallon of gas will fall to $2.50 in a Gingrich administration -- etched on an illustration of a Newt 2012 gasoline pump, the candidate took a few shots at President Obama. Gingrich pointed out that gasoline was below $1.20 when he was in Congress in the 1990s and angrily recalled that it was $1.89 when Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 (although he failed to mention that this followed record-high prices surpassing $4 a gallon during the summer of 2008).
Gingrich insisted that gas prices are approaching $5 a gallon in some states specifically because of the poor policy choices made by the Obama administration.
All of this gigantic increase came from his policies, Gingrich said. He also called for a major increase in domestic oil drilling that he guaranteed would finally free the United States from its dependence on foreign oil.
Gingrich is taking that message to Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas this week on his quest to seize the South and unseat Santorum from his second-place perch. The candidates personal Twitter page is already pushing the #250gas trend -- he encouraged backers to tweet their support on Tuesday night -- and he's even asked them to donate to his campaign in $2.50 increments, an amount he referred to as a Newt gallon.
Fueled by a round of small campaign contributions and another multimillion-dollar infusion to the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future super PAC by repeat donor Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino mogul, Gingrich is likely to fight fiercely to retain any chance of winning the Republican nomination. Despite hopes that the field would narrow in the aftermath of Super Tuesday, it's safe to say the 2012 primary campaign just got even longer.