As he charts a possible course to the Republican nomination, aides say Gingrich will paint frontrunner Mitt Romney as the candidate of the PGA golf tour while the former House speaker pursues the blue collar mantle of Dale Earnhardt.
It’s a strategy that exploits the class warfare Gingrich professes to oppose. Still, it could pay dividends once the GOP race again swings South. Gingrich sees delegate-rich Texas as a firewall in April. But he must slog through more than 30 contests before that.
“Our commitment is to seek to find a series of victories which would end at the Texas primary, which will leave us about at parity with Gov. Romney,” Gingrich said at a press conference in Las Vegas following caucus results which showed him placing a distant second behind Mitt Romney.
It won’t be easy. Coming off sizable wins in Florida and Nevada, Romney is again the undisputed frontrunner in the Republican race, having brushed aside the threat posed by Gingrich when he won South Carolina on Jan. 21. Romney has momentum, money and a healthy lead in pledged delegates.
And before the 10-state battle on March 6 known as Super Tuesday, the Republican race will move through several more states seen as favorable to Romney, such as his old home state of Michigan.
Still, those who’ve followed Gingrich’s career know he’s at his strongest as an insurgent — which is precisely where he now finds himself.
In Las Vegas, Gingrich has been making the case to donors that he can come back yet again. He’s been cloistered with top advisers, including his pollster, in a campaign war room to map out the coming months. The mandate is to keep the delegate count close in states with the kind of working class voter they are targeting.
For now, Gingrich is giving a brief nod to states holding votes this month while looking forward to Super Tuesday states and beyond.
Gingrich will touch down briefly in Colorado and Minnesota — which both conduct contests on Tuesday — before heading to a state that holds more promise for the former House speaker: Ohio. Gingrich is hopeful his populist attacks on Romney will resonate with the Rust Belt’s blue collar voters. Mindful that he was pummeled in Florida, where he arrived after a significant amount of early voting had taken place, Gingrich is launching a two-day bus tour in Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday hoping to grab headlines as early voters make up their minds.
Gingrich aides also believe Arizona, where voters will cast ballots Feb. 28, could be fertile ground for Gingrich who has appeal with Hispanic voters due to an immigration policy that seeks to straddle the line between tough and compassionate. Gingrich wants to control the border but he’s also said that the millions of illegal immigrants in the country for decades should not automatically be deported and instead be provided a path to stay.