Newt Gingrich talks to supporters in Birmingham, Ala. (Win McNamee / Getty Images )
Reporting from Hoover, Ala. — With early election returns from Alabama and Mississippi showing Newt Gingrich trailing Rick Santorum and exit polls not looking promising, the former House speaker’s spokesman said that, whatever the results in the two states, Gingrich would press on.
“Tomorrow, the sun comes up. We go to Chicago, we go on to Tampa,” R.C. Hammond told reporters at Gingrich’s election night party at a hotel outside Birmingham, Ala.
And he noted that whoever wins the tight races in Alabama and Mississippi, one thing is clear: “Mitt Romney has proven again that he is not capable of closing the deal.”
Gingrich had been counting on the two Southern states to boost his campaign. He has won only two states: Georgia, which he represented in Congress for two decades, and South Carolina.
Hammond said that the extended presidential primary season would hurt President Obama and benefit the Republican Party by keeping the nation’s attention focused on the GOP’s agenda.
“For those out there who say it is bad for the party having three Republican candidates get together and debate what is the best way to fix the economy, what’s the best way to get American energy together, what’s the best way to defend us from threats abroad, having the American people be part of this debate is tremendously good for our party,” he said.
As the election contests become more spaced out, Hammond argued, Gingrich’s arguments about why he is the most effective communicator and the best candidate to defeat Obama would sink in with the American public. He declined to discuss why that may not have happened in Alabama and Mississippi, saying he would wait to see what happened.
“We’re going to go out and continue to make the arguments that are winning,” he said, noting that the White House press secretary recently denounced Gingrich’s $2.50-a-gallon gas promise. “We’re the only campaign that’s been effectively engaging the White House.”
Two losses in his Southern backyard could hurt Gingrich’s fundraising, but Hammond said: “We’re a pretty slim campaign. We’re pretty efficient with our dollar.”