Gingrich Raises the Bar on Romney

Frederick, Md. - Newt Gingrich says the finish line for Mitt Romney's path to the GOP nomination is further down the road than what current delegate counts indicate.

The longshot hopeful, who has said he won't get out of the race until Romney secures 1144 delegates, is stressing that the delegates have to be "uncontested" in order to count. The frontrunner's rivals argue some of the states that awarded Romney all of their delegates violated Republican National Committee rules when they moved their contests ahead of April 1 and therefore should distribute delegates proportionally. This dispute, if it continues, would not be ruled on until the August convention in Tampa.

"All the media counts right now give him all of Florida, which is against the rules, all of Arizona, which is against the rules, and all of Idaho," Gingrich said Monday. "Those are all three proportional states and they should only be counting his share. So he has to win 1,144 uncontested delegates."

The audience that had gathered to see him at the auto dealership here in Maryland was loud and enthusiastic, but Gingrich admitted that the odds he'll be the nominee are slim.

"I can't tell you today how realistic it is that we will get to an open convention and I can't tell you today with any certainty that I will be the nominee," he said. "But I can tell you a couple things. Despite 6 years of campaigning, $40 million dollars of his own money, millions raised from Wall Street - largely from people who got our tax money from the bailout - Governor Romney doesn't have it locked down. And we have no obligation to back off and concede anything until he does."

Gingrich reiterated that he would back Romney if he were to clinch all 1144 delegates, but until then, "Callista and I will both be going to Tampa, because we are going to fight for a conservative platform."

Current polls indicate Romney is ahead in Wisconsin, Maryland, and DC, which all hold their contests tomorrow. As an indication that his campaign does not expect to do well, Gingrich currently has no public events scheduled for Tuesday.

Having restrained his attacks against his rivals last week, Gingrich resumed an offensive stance. Once again bringing up Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom's Etch A Sketch comments last month, Gingrich tried to paint the candidate as someone whose political platform would change at the whim of his consultants.

"The last thing I want to see is a campaign this fall by a group of clever consultants, the people who advised Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2008," Gingrich said. "You can't run a campaign with no principles and win the United States. You are not going to beat Barack Obama by being clever."