Share this article

print logo

Gingrich, in debt, bows to Romney inevitability

Not long ago, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich led the polls over his rivals for the nomination. Today, he's millions of dollars in debt and describing Mitt Romney as "far and away the most likely" GOP nominee.

Running for president "turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be," he said Sunday.

"I do think there's a desire for a more idea-oriented Republican Party, but that doesn't translate necessarily to being able to take on the Romney machine," Gingrich told "Fox News Sunday" in an interview.

After his Jan. 21 victory in the South Carolina primary, the former House speaker said the Florida primary he lost afterward turned into a "real brawl." He said Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, did a good job in building a substantial political machine, adding that he has no regrets.

"Unfortunately, our guys tried to match Romney," Gingrich said of the Florida matchup. "It turned out, we didn't have anything like his capacity to raise money."

Gingrich said that he has slightly less than $4.5 million in campaign debt and that he's operating on a shoestring budget.

Despite Gingrich's acknowledgment of what appears to be his inevitable defeat, he isn't ready to drop out. He says he wants to influence the party's platform, which is a statement of principles on the issues. He's interested in promoting increased domestic oil production and personal Social Security savings accounts.

But if Romney secures the nomination, Gingrich said, he'll campaign for him.

"I hit him as hard as I could. He hit me as hard as he could. It turned out he had more things to hit with than I did," Gingrich said. "And that's part of the business. He's done the fundraising side brilliantly."

Gingrich has had a campaign full of ups and downs. Just weeks after entering the race last year, his campaign imploded. Months later, in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses, he surged. He came in behind Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Iowa, but won South Carolina. He had several losses before winning his home state of Georgia. He had hoped to carry that momentum to other contests in the South, but that wasn't to be.