(Ben Corda / (Monroe, La.)…)
Reporting from Washington — Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were locked in a close race for third place in the Illinois GOP primary Tuesday night as Mitt Romney was declared the winner.
The poor showing was yet another blow to Gingrich’s roller-coaster candidacy as Rick Santorum -- once considered Gingrich’s close rival for deeply conservative voters -- appeared to be pulling away and cementing himself as the No. 2 candidate.
Unlike previous primary nights in which Gingrich has taken advantage of the media opportunity to speak publicly about his campaign, he stayed out of sight on Tuesday and instead issued an email “reacting to the results of the Illinois primary.”
“To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can’t nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7 to 1,” Gingrich said. “Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures.”
While not mentioning Romney by name, Gingrich was surely referring to his well-funded rival, whose win in Illinois moves Romney a step closer to what many believe is an inevitable nomination.
Gingrich was won just two states -- his home state of Georgia and neighboring South Carolina -- but he has insisted he will continue the race all the way to the party’s late-summer nominating convention in Tampa. He reiterated that pledge in his statement.
“Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies,” Gingrich said. “This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case."