BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich lost both Alabama and Mississippi to Rick Santorum Tuesday. But while Gingrich campaign advisers had called the two states “must-win” just last week, more recently he said that no matter what the outcome Tuesday, he would still soldier on to other primaries and all the way to the convention in Tampa.
“Because this is proportional representation we are going to leave Alabama and Mississippi with a substantial number of delegates, increasing our total going toward Tampa,” Gingrich said, noting that delegates will ultimately decide the GOP nominee.
Romney has a large delegate lead, but Gingrich said tonight’s third-place finishes will hurt the former Massachusetts governor.
“I emphasize going to Tampa, because one of the things tonight proved is that the elite media’s effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” he said.
Gingrich said that conservative candidates — he and Santorum — got more than 70 percent of the vote. Romney, said Gingrich, is a “Massachusetts moderate.”
“If you’re a front runner and coming in third, you are not much of a front runner,” Gingrich said. Gingrich said he didn’t believe Romney had the ability to beat President Obama in the fall, which is “part of the reason I have insisted on staying in this race.”
Gingrich heads to Illinois on Wednesday and will campaign in Louisiana later in the week.