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Gingrich presses ahead amid reports of suspending campaign, huge debt

FILE - Republican presidential hopeful, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gestures while speaking during a Town Hall style meeting at the Derry Medical Center in Derry, N.H., in this May 25, 2011 file photo. The entire top echelon of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign resigned on Thursday, June 9, 2011 a stunning mass exodus that left his bid for the Republican nomination in tatters. But the former House speaker vowed defiantly to remain a candidate.AP

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Saturday he will move forward with stops next week in North Carolina, following reports that events had been cancelled as a result of communication problems.

Wayne King, vice chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, said he got a call from Gingrich who personally told him campaign events are on for next week and that a schedule is forthcoming.

Reports that Gingrich -- whose campaign is deep in debt and trailing far behind Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney -- surfaced late Friday night when a source told Fox News the candidate’s scheduled campaign stops in North Carolina and elsewhere were "on hold."

The reports were confirmed by King.

However, Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said later that a "communication glitch" had led to the confusion.

"There was confusion, but we will maintain our North Carolina schedule next week," he told ABC News.

The state primary in May 8.

On Friday, a report to the Federal Election Commission for March showed the Gingrich campaign had $4.3 million in debt and has $1.22 million cash on hand. The campaign raised $1.6 million in March but spent $2.01 million, according to the report.

Public finance records showed that Gingrich began the month of March with $1.55 million in debt and only $1.54 million in cash reserves.

The debt has skyrocketed since an internal audit started being carried out in March, Fox News reported.

The Gingrich campaign says that since April 1 more than $500,000 in debt obligations have been paid down and 40 percent of vendors who were owed money have since been paid in full.

"Every effort is being made to repay vendors," said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond.

The FEC report will show the campaign is also disputing some of the debt, challenging a $22,500 bill with Resilient Corporation, a $100,000 bill from Crimson Hexagon, and a $95,000 bill from Moshe Technologies. These information technology vendors fell under the watch of former Chief Information Officer Mark Gembicki, whose $6,537.59 travel charge is also in dispute.

"There is an ongoing audit to ensure invoices presented to the campaign are authentic," Hammond said.

Gingrich has won only two primaries -- South Carolina and his home state of Georgia.

His southern strategy was essentially foiled when former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum picked up a series of other states in the region, including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi. Santorum suspended his campaign last week.

King said he got a call Friday informing him that Gingrich was canceling his entire trip to the state next week. After the conversation with Karen Rotterman, the Raleigh-based political consultant who is spearheading Gingrich's state operation, King spread the word to activists and county chairs hosting the candidate. As of early Saturday morning, King said, he had not received news that events are back on.

Gingrich and his wife, Callista, were scheduled to make seven or eight stops in the counties of Mecklenburg, Gaston, Lincoln, Cleveland, Catawba, and Surry in the two-day leg of the weeklong trip that King was helping plan.

Having worked on the events for about a week, organizers expected a large turnout, particularly since some events were scheduled just a few miles away from the South Carolina border and many state activists still want to be part of the candidate selection process.

Gingrich was scheduled to make multiple appearances throughout the state, including a visit to Lincoln Charter School in Denver next Wednesday. Fourth graders planned to present him with an American history project.

“We are disappointed that the Gingrich camp has decided to cancel the entire North Carolina tour,” said Lincoln Charter School Chief Administrator Dave Machado.“We were looking forward to the opportunity to showcase (our) accomplishments.”

The former Speaker of the House was also set to talk with an Honors Civics and Economics class at the school.

The state party isn't endorsing any candidate but offered campaigns assistance to all candidates in planning events in North Carolina.

"Nobody's at 1,144 (delegates) yet, and we felt it was the party's job to showcase candidates," said King, saying that the party also assisted Mitt Romney when he visited Thursday.

Producer Joy Lin contributed to this report.

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