Gingrich zeroes in on Santorum in the South
February 27th, 2012
10:05 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich zeroes in on Santorum in the South

Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) – Newt Gingrich zeroed in on Rick Santorum as a "big-labor Republican" Monday, and said the GOP presidential race is "going to redefine itself again" one week before crucial contests on Super Tuesday.

The longtime Georgia congressman praised his opponent's successful early state strategy but predicted on February 28 Santorum will lose to Mitt Romney in Arizona and Michigan, two states Gingrich ceded so he could focus on March 6 primaries that include his home state and Tennessee, where he campaigned Monday.

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"You will see things start to clarify if, as people expect, you end up with a Romney victory in Michigan. I think you'll see Santorum getting a very different look," Gingrich said. "He has had two weeks of being the alternative. The fact is, I think there are profound reasons that Rick lost the Senate race by the largest margin in Pennsylvania history in 2006 and I think it's very hard for him to carry that all the way to the general (election)."

At a luncheon with local Republicans at a Nashville law firm, Gingrich raised some potential red flags for Santorum in the South, pointing to Memphis-based Federal Express as an example.

"And when he comes South - take the case right here - he voted for the unions over FedEx. I suspect most folks in this state don't know that. But in fact, he was a big-labor Republican in Pennsylvania, and I suspect when you get to Memphis and you say to people 'Gee, this is a guy who wanted to guarantee that FedEx gave into the unions,' Santorum won't be quite as popular the following morning," Gingrich said.

Santorum appears to be leading the pack in Tennessee. According to a poll conducted by Vanderbilt University's Center for Democratic Institutions between February 16 and February 22, Santorum leads with 33% among registered and likely voters surveyed. Romney came in second with 17% and Rep. Ron Paul had 13%. Gingrich picked up only 10% but he could benefit from the 27% surveyed who were still undecided.

The former House speaker is hoping a little star power might help him. Monday afternoon he held a rally outside the state capitol where former Sen. Fred Thompson appeared and introduced Gingrich's wife Callista.

Gingrich knows his White House run rests on winning his home state. He said, "We have to do fairly well on Super Tuesday and that starts with Georgia and I'm pretty straight about that."

But the same goes for his competitors.

"I think people have to carry their home state. You've seen Romney scramble like crazy for the last two weeks to carry Michigan. I think Santorum will face the same challenge in Pennsylvania, where I think he frankly will have a much harder time," he said.

Gingrich dismissed Santorum's latest spike that resulted in victories in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. The lagging presidential candidate is banking on a scenario in which the three candidates duel it out until the convention in Tampa in August. He suggested he needs Texas and California to be considered a viable candidate in the race.

"My basic hope is to pick up some delegates virtually everywhere, pick up a lot of delegates in the South, in the Southwest, and then with Texas and California be totally in the race," Gingrich said.

The candidate, who acknowledges almost daily this campaign is like being on a roller coaster and he's been counted out more than once, still believes there's time for a comeback.

"I have the longest record of any candidate in this race of being able to somehow re-emerge over and over again," he said.

Also see:

Gingrich tells evangelicals: 'We need to stand up for ourselves'

Limbaugh front and center in pro-Santorum mailer

Romney: 'I can't be perfect'

Graham, McCain predict big primary night for Romney


Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum • Tennessee
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Satberry

    Newt I hate to inform you,but you must understand you are finished.I will predict Santorum will win Michigan.Willard will not win Michigan ,they hate him,but if by chance I am wrong Santorum will carry the south.

    February 27, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  2. TomNPitt

    These three guys live in an alternate universe. The only thing they say that's true is, this is anybody's race. Anybody but the three of them!!

    February 27, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't think that Gingrich really has much of a chance. The only thing that he can hope is to get something with the delegates he has and will win over the course of time.

    February 27, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  4. belindar

    All Newt has to do is wait and let the others eat each other up. He started the fight, now he is smart enough to lay back and let Santorum and Romney devour each other, then he can laugh all the way to the presidency. I do wonder why there are no minorities in Newt's audience.

    February 28, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  5. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    "I have the longest record of any candidate in this race of being able to somehow re-emerge over and over again,"

    I am not sure being kicked out of Congress, losing primaries and caucuses, having to cede states to other candidates and being considered poison by his fellow Republicans is a good recomendation for Presidency. The fact that he can still generate some votes by pandering to the lowest possible denominator of the Tea Partiers is even worse.

    February 28, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  6. nothing new here

    I have friends in Georgia that will be planning on voting for Gingrich, or Ron Paul. They are sick of the drama going on between Santorum and Romney, and are hoping for a brokered convention, or for another candidate to enter the race.

    February 28, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  7. Thomas

    Rick Santorum is a Catholic Northerner big-labor Republican .

    Ask Rick Perry !

    February 28, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  8. king

    I know down here in the narrow minded south, folks take their mantra from their candidates talking heads. But if these Southerners can ever try to think out of the box, they will see that it is never too good to concentrate money in one small area, and leaving the rest of us to barely get by. This will damage American small businesses and even some big industries that relies on American consumers. They don't believe in their own interest down here in the south.__

    February 28, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  9. Marlee

    Well Newt I know one person who may have voted for ya, but not me! Family values matter. If government isn't there to serve society why in the heck do we have it?

    February 28, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  10. Marie MD

    Where's Plan B?

    February 28, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  11. T'sah from Virginia

    ►Gingrich zeroes in on Santorum in the South◄
    It figures ginGRINCH is somewhere else running his arrogant mouth!!
    ginGRINCH and Santorum are one of the same kind
    They have their own fans but will NEVER change anyone else's mind!

    Obama 2012

    February 28, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Newt and Paul are only in this race to protect Rmoney's campaign from going up in a puff of very expensive smoke.

    February 28, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  13. Dianne

    What an uninterested looking crowd!

    February 28, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  14. jim

    Newt: "I have the longest record of any candidate in this race of being able to somehow re-emerge over and over again,"

    Doesn't that mean Newt also has the longest record of any candidate in this race of being able to take a winning streak and turn it into a loss?

    February 28, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  15. CoJo

    We know Santorum does not believe people should go to college. Why? Because they don't come out as a hard core evangelical like he is. He even would prefer to have every child educated at home like he was. No need for school at all. Yet he has three degrees and sends his own kids to college. Obviously he says one thing about college “opening “ kid’s minds in a negative way but STILL sends his own kids. What a hypocrite.

    February 28, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  16. ThinkAgain

    Adelson is funding Gingrich because he wants Romney to win: keeping Gingrich alive in the race pulls votes away from Santorum.

    This is all part of the plan to make Mittens the nominee, who the Koch brothers want.
    What's interesting is Limpaw's backing of Santorum ...

    Whole lotta crazy in that party ... guess we can't expect anything else, given that all the GOP's economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    February 28, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |