RICHARDSON (CBSDFW) – Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he’s not leaving the Presidential race anytime soon. “I’m the tortoise in this race,” Gingrich says. “I’ll just keep coming forward and I’m still here.”
Before 75 supporters in a packed Richardson restaurant along Central Expressway Monday afternoon, Gingrich sounded upbeat.
He told the town hall meeting, “I certainly felt a lot more encouraged by donors than discouraged by the elite media.”
But he’s facing an uphill climb.
CBS 11’s Jack Fink spoke one-on-one with Gingrich Monday.
Jack Fink: “Mitt Romney is on his way to the nomination, mathematically you can’t win, so what’s your rationale for staying in the race?”
Newt Gingrich: “It’s interesting, in Colorado this weekend, the delegates chosen were 13 for Romney and 23 not for Romney, and I don’t think any of the national news media picked it up yet. The inevitability train didn’t seem to get across the Rockies. I’m campaigning here, I’m campaigning in North Carolina, in Delaware, in Pennsylvania, tomorrow, I’ll be in New York for two days this week. I think we still have the right to have the last conservative standing, and make the case for conservatism.”
Fink: “I remember back in South Carolina, you had asked for Governor Perry and Rick Santorum to drop out and get behind you.”
Gingrich: “And Governor Perry did, which I was very grateful for.”
Fink: “I’m wondering, what do you say to other Republicans who say it’s time now to get behind Mitt Romney?”
Gingrich: “If Mitt Romney can earn 1144 delegates, then I’ll support him as the nominee, but I don’t think anyone has the obligation to give him the nomination. I do think conservatives deserve somebody whose clearly committed to conservatism, has been for his whole career, is willing to stand up for the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and that’s what I’m in Texas doing.”
Fink: “But you will not be able to get to that 1144 delegates that’s required.”
Gingrich: “Unless we have an open convention, between the uncommitted delegates, I just said, in Colorado, there was 23 uncommitted and 13 Romney so if Colorado is a sign, it didn’t look to me the folks who wanted a conservative in Colorado collapsed, they stuck to their guns even thought Santorum dropped out.”
Fink: “It’s been reported that your campaign is in debt, and that you have rented out your donor list. What is your message to your supporters here and across the country?”
Gingrich: “We need money. Look, it’s not complicated. Governor Romney can go to Wall Street, and raise millions of dollars. I have 180,000 donors, 95% of them (gave) $250 or less. We had over 6,000 donors last week. We have to run a shoestring campaign.”
Fink: “What do you think about the people who say the longer you stay in the race, the longer Congressman Paul stays in the race, the more damaging it’s going to be for Mitt Romney?”
Gingrich: “I’d say they don’t know anything about history. In 2008, McCain won the nomination in March. Obama and Clinton went all the way to late June, it didn’t seem to hurt Obama. I think there’s zero historic evidence that having a good healthy debate, frankly having a debate over getting a conservative platform in Tampa, I think that helps the Republican party – it doesn’t hurt it.”
Those at the town hall meeting had different reasons for coming. Jim Basler says, “I love to take a stance on what I think is right no matter what everybody else thinks is right. And I think he’s the right guy for the job.”
Lee Hailey says, “I’m supporting Romney, but I think Gingrich should not just be shoved out on the side. I think he has some very good ideas that Romney could use.”
Gingrich held a private fundraiser in Dallas Monday night.
He’ll campaign in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Delaware, and New York later this week.