ELGIN, Ill.–After two days of campaigning in Illinois, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told reporters that he believes the race in Illinois “largely will be Romney and Santorum.”
A poll last week from the Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV, showed Gingrich at 12 percent support in the state, while Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were neck and neck, with Romney at 35 percent and Santorum at 31 percent.
Illinois congressman and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who endorsed Romney for president, told reporters on a fly-around of the state campaigning for Romney Thursday that while he still considered Gingrich a friend he did not support his candidacy for president.
“You’ll find that a lot of people who worked with Newt Gingrich over those years aren’t supporting Newt Gingrich. This guy is all over the place. You can’t trust him. There’s always a doubt out there about where this guy’s going to go,” Hastert said.
When asked if Gingrich would have wanted Hastert’s support in the state, Gingrich told reporters, “That would have been fine.”
“Governor Romney has been busy gathering up the establishment and that is his style of campaign, mine is out here with all these people,” Gingrich said.
Thursday on a call-in to Laura Ingram’s radio show, Gingrich said that he was not planning to leave the race for the nomination any time soon, despite mounting pressures from the other campaigns. Gingrich made the case that staying in and having two people opposing Romney was helping the nominating process.
“My view on that is that the minute Romney has one opponent his Super PAC will drown that opponent in mud. That’s what happened to me in Iowa and Florida,” Gingrich said. “It will eventually happen to Santorum and I think it is actually to our net advantage to keep Romney divided.”
While Gingrich toned down hitting Santorum since losing both Mississippi and Alabama, on Thursday he said he didn’t have to concede to Santorum either.
“There are a lot of things I don’t agree with Santorum on. I don’t have an obligation to automatically salute as a conservative somebody who was in a leadership that ran up $1.7 trillion in debt,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich made six stops in Illinois including a talk with students at Barrington High School and a speech centered on big ideas and hard work.
“I’m staying in the race to see if I can’t in the second half of the race-Louisiana is sort of halftime. I want to see if we can’t reset this whole race around the idea of really big ideas and really big solutions and insist that the American people have a chance to vote for a dramatically better future,” Gingrich said.