CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — On the eve of Super Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich spent the day flying around Tennessee hoping for a victory in the state as well as in his home state of Georgia.
At the last event of the day, Gingrich was asked about Mitt Romney’s ability to win southern states.
“Either he’ll figure out how to win the South or he won’t be the nominee,” Gingrich said.
Though the race nationally has shaped into a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Gingrich looked past Super Tuesday, saying today on conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity’s program that he wants to challenge both candidates to a debate next week.
“Tomorrow night, when we have our victory party in Atlanta, I’m going to challenge the candidates to join me in Mississippi or Alabama next week. I think we owe the people of Alabama and Mississippi a debate. They have the right to see us. I don’t think Governor Romney can hide behind his Wall Street Money and negative ads,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said he sees the margin narrowing in Tennessee and believes in Georgia he’ll win by an even larger margin than Romney won his home state.
“Looks now like in Georgia we will carry the state by four or five times the margin that Romney had in Michigan, so that feels pretty good,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told ABC News that the Republican primary is finally traveling to the “heart and soul of our party,” where he believes the negative ads don’t have the same effect.
Gingrich hit Romney throughout the day for suggesting he was pandering to voters for pushing a $2.50 gas price promise. On several radio show calls, Gingrich suggested Romney could not relate to the issue of high gas prices because of his wealth.
“One of my competitors, Gov. Romney, yesterday said I was pandering. He said nobody can — nobody knows you’d be at $2.50,” Gingrich said. “Well let me say up front, of course nobody knows you’d be at $2.50, but there’s this thing called setting goals. It’s called — it’s not called pandering, it’s called leadership.”
Usually willing to comment on the news of the day from Washington, D.C., Gingrich was critical of Sen. John McCain’s call in the Senate for U.S. intervention in Syria.
“We shouldn’t further over extend our military in the Middle East,” Gingrich told ABC News.
Gingrich plans to spend Super Tuesday campaigning in Georgia and Huntsville, Ala., and expects to finish the night as results come in at his watch party in Atlanta.