Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Up against Mitt Romney’s robust campaign operation and facing a tough February slog, Newt Gingrich’s campaign is tempering expectations for two major contests and largely setting its sights on March, when a slew of southern states begin to weigh in on the presidential race.
Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told CNN Monday that Michigan and Nevada – two states that Romney won during his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign – will be difficult political terrain for the former House speaker come February.
Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
“The toughest one is Nevada,” Hammond said.
As for Michigan, he said: “If we are looking at the six February states right now and we are going to rank them, we are not putting Michigan first.”
“Our strongest states, you look at Arizona, you look at Minnesota, Maine and Colorado,” he said.
Arizona is a primary state, while Minnesota, Maine and Colorado all have caucuses scheduled for next month.
Nevada, which awards delegates proportionally, holds its Republican caucuses in just five days, on February 4.
Michigan votes on February 28. Statewide delegates there are awarded proportionally, and congressional district delegates are winner-take-all.
Romney won both Nevada and Michigan during his 2008 primary effort, and his campaign has been laying political groundwork in both for more than a year.
The two states remain bright spots for Romney as the race shifts to a national phase after Tuesday's Florida primary.
Michigan is central to Romney’s political biography: he was born in Detroit and his father served as governor from 1963 until 1969.
And in Nevada, roughly a quarter of Republican caucus goers in 2008 were self-identified Mormons - and most of them backed Romney in that contest.
Gingrich himself highlighted the Mormon factor after a campaign event Monday in Orlando.
"Nevada's tricky because of the Mormon influence, but we have a shot at it,” Gingrich said.
Still, Gingrich added that he will "absolutely" campaign in Nevada, where Ron Paul is also aggressively organizing.
Hammond, the Gingrich spokesman, claimed that Arizona is perhaps the most favorable battleground, in part because it’s “a strong tea party state” that will be receptive to the candidate’s grassroots-oriented message.
Like Michigan, Arizona’s winner-take-all is scheduled for February 28.
But Hammond also echoed a campaign memo released Sunday that said the campaign is mostly ramping up for March, when several large southern states like Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi will award “a huge delegate treasure chest.”
“Our capacity to tell the truth about Romney's record is limitless,” he said. “We will challenge Mitt Romney and his lies in every state in every contest."
– CNN's Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.
Gingrich supporter trails Romney
Romney would consider pulling NBC ad
Romney holds 14-point lead over Gingrich in new Florida poll
arizona is for obama this time!!!!!!
I like her helmet
Newt Gingrich is a joke, just like all the Republican candidates. None of them have any chance of beating Obama, they're extremists.
for the love of god America. This guy will be worse than Bush. The only thing he has going for him is he is white. Don't make him president! If you do, guarantee 11 more years of war and crony politics.
I cant wait for more months of "american values" from the king of adulterers. Being gay, bad, but ditching your wife cause she got cancer is cool. Ah, I love the party of values.
Thanks Newt! You make Jerry Springer look like a saint!
Rommney is dangerous because he has too much money to know or care. Newt is dangerous because he can be bought.
Guess Gingrich wants to be the next McCain
It is going to be hard for Gingrich to really make some headway and with that all, make it all the way to the convention. I don' t know if anyone will have enough delegates to make a difference.
He needs to do like W - both of them are an embarrassment and need to keep their mouths shut in public for the rest of their lives.
Tell the Republucans to stop deceiving the public & attacking each other than attacking the real issues- I will not vote for Obama or anyone who does not address the issues the public is facing- like the Missing MF Global Customer Funds
I hate to say it but Romney will lose Michigan to Obama, so some of these primary elections are not going to mean anything in the fall. I suppose Romney could beat Obama in Nevada. Romney's strongest states versus Newt will be in states where Obama will easily win. Romney cannot beat Obama, because he will not inspire the red states and swing states and cannot buy them because Obama will pay as much or more. I guess Romney is willing to throw his money down the drain for hopes of pesonal glory, but he deserves to lose.
Gingrich is not going to win the nomination or the presidential election and at the moment is undermining the entire Republican Party and making everyone look like dim wits (we don't have that strong of a field to begin with...). He needs to drop out early, rather than late and we don't need anymore debates between Republican candidates...we know who they are by now.
i want to hear more about the moon colony.
By March Gingrich and Cain can hve a great time sitting around and swapping their and their[ FRIENDS] addresses and phone numbers.
Once a candidate starts saying he has reduced expectations in any state's primary or caucus he might as well give up the campaign. These two states could be an exception, though. Michigan is one of the states Romney can claim as "home" (making him as bad as either Bush when it comes to pinning him down to one state). Nevada has a high percentage of LDS members. Either way, Romney will have an easier time in both states than Santorum.
How much longer, how many more states. This is no way to run a railroad.
Newt will sell a lot more books and get a lot more lobbying contracts as a result of his campaign for the nomination. Who knows? He might get a regular gig on Faux News! But president? It will never happen Newt.