WILMINGTON, N.C. — Spring allergies took their toll on Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. In a scratchy, barely recognizable voice, he told a crowd here he expected to do well in North Carolina and set a “new tone” for the Arkansas, Texas and California primaries.
Gingrich said he slept 13 hours on Tuesday but still couldn’t shake his illness. Another thing annoying Gingrich, possibly even more than a stuffy nose, is the talk among pundits that he is dropping out of the race soon.
“Until [Romney] becomes the nominee, I’m staying in the race. And in order to be the nominee, he has to get 1,144 uncontested delegates. He has not done that yet,” Gingrich said.
In a news conference, a reporter said to Gingrich, “Clearly you have no intention of getting out of the race,” to which Gingrich interrupted, “I want to commend you for being the first reporter to state the obvious.”
Gingrich said he, Romney and Santorum said they would support the eventual nominee. He didn’t believe the words of their past would come back to haunt them in the general election.
“It doesn’t matter because they just make stuff up anyway,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich told ABC News he is still in the race to win the nomination, not just to take away delegates from Romney.
“I’m trying to get to an open convention to see what would happen,” he said. “I mean, I’m not going to beat Romney head to head, but it’s conceivable that between Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and me, we’ll have enough delegates to have an open convention, and if we have an open convention, the truth is, nobody knows what would happen.”
Gingrich has only won the majority of votes in South Carolina and his home state of Georgia, and gathered a total 135 delegates, compared to Santorum’s overall count of 278 and Romney’s 655.