LAS VEGAS -- Newt Gingrich appeared to wipe a tear away Friday night after singing along to a moving rendition of "God Bless America" during a prayer meeting.
"While I want your vote, I need your prayers," the candidate told a congregation of approximately 500 people. "I hope that both Callista and I can be in your prayers because we will need them every day that we serve this country."
Other than attending Mass in the morning and holding a media avail tonight, Gingrich - who until now had maintained a busy public schedule every voting day - has nothing else on his calendar Saturday. The candidate says he has the "hope" of finishing second in the Nevada caucuses but is mindful that Ron Paul's organization may trump his chances.
"We're going all out to see if we can't be a good solid second here," an optimistic Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren Friday. "And then we're on to Colorado and Minnesota. Voting has already started in Arizona and in Ohio. We're going to be competing there."
The candidate called upon children in the congregation to join him on stage Friday night, the first time he had done so since South Carolina. It was a move that evoked memories of his earlier success, fitting given the Gingrich team's efforts to rejigger its operation after losing momentum in Florida.
On Fox News, Gingrich hinted at a potential path toward winning the nomination, saying he hoped to be "even with or slightly ahead" of Romney in total delegates by April 3.
"We're working our way toward Super Tuesday," Gingrich said to Van Susteren. "And we think we'll do very, very well on Super Tuesday, and then in Alabama and Mississippi the following week. And then we think we will clean up in Texas on the 3rd of April.'
A bullish Newt Gingrich ratcheted up his populist attacks on Mitt Romney Friday, abandoning his "Massachusetts Moderate" rhetoric for more forceful language that coupled the former governor with the current president. Romney, Gingrich said at a morning venue which featured a mechanical bull, is "Obama lite ... Obama is big food stamp, he's little food stamp." Criticizing Romney for his support of indexing federal minimum wage to inflation, Gingrich said such a policy would raise barriers for unemployment.
"Truth is I don't think he understands the free market," he said. "I think he understands a lot about finance. But finance isn't the free market and Wall Street isn't Main Street, and giant businesses aren't small businesses, and what matters in America is the ability of the local business person, man or woman, to create enough jobs, to hire enough people, to start people down the road."
At church Friday night, Gingrich took to the stage to once again attack Governor Romney for saying he isn't concerned about the "very poor" so long as there are "safety nets."
"My good friend, the governor from Massachusetts, said it was okay not to worry about the poor because after all they have a safety net," Gingrich said. "It's not a safety net, it's a spider web. It traps them in poverty. It keeps them at the bottom. It deprives them of independence. One of the reasons I'm running is because I want to replace the spider web with a trampoline that launches them into the middle class and gives them a future."