'I will fight on' insists Gingrich despite defeat
He looked less like a contender for the US presidency, and more like Comical Ali, the Iraqi PR minister famed for declarations of impending victory in the jaws of catastrophic defeat.
A simmering Newt Gingrich stood at a lectern at the Venetian resort in Las Vegas on Saturday night, and attempted to convince America that his campaign remains viable following a second hammering at the polls.
He began by putting "one thing to rest": "I am a candidate for President of the United States. I will be a candidate for President of the United States." Despite mischievous rumours to the contrary, he has no intention of quitting before the GOP convention in late August.
As a "true conservative", Mr Gingrich insisted that he can still beat a "pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax, George-Soros approved candidate of the establishment" – even if Mr Romney is running "the most dishonest, dirty campaign I've seen in American politics".
The former Speaker's press conference replaced a traditional election-night "victory" celebration. It lasted a little over 20 minutes and was attended by the dwindling band of reporters still being assigned to his events.
Across town, at a resort called Red Rocks, Mitt Romney was doing his best Cheshire Cat impersonation, as 600 electrified fans greeted his triumph in the Nevada caucuses. With 71 per cent of precincts reporting, Mr Romney had 48 per cent of the vote, more than double Mr Gingrich's 23 per cent. Ron Paul was third, with 19 per cent, and Rick Santorum had 11 per cent.
Politics can be a cruel game, and Mr Gingrich faced impertinent questions. He'd lost Nevada because he had been "outspent by five to one," he argued. And in any case, this was a "very heavily Mormon state".
Mr Gingrich may very well return to the theme of Mr Romney's faith in advance of "Super Tuesday" on 6 March, when the campaign hits Southern states dominated by evangelical Christians, who tend to dislike Mormons.
His supposed path to victory involves success in those key battlegrounds. He claims that he'll then take a share of the lead, in terms of delegates pledged, after the Texas primary on 3 April.
On paper, that's a valid proposition. But in a race where momentum is everything, the calendar is stacked firmly against Mr Gingrich: tomorrow will see Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri go to the polls. He trails Mr Romney badly in the first two states, and is not on the ballot in the third.
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