Gingrich Team Braces for Possible Last Stand

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Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Nobody knows what Newt Gingrich is thinking, but as calls for him to quit the race begin to pile up, his campaign is preparing for a strong fight in two primaries on Tuesday.

The primaries are in Alabama and Mississippi, key states that Gingrich’s campaign hopes will reward the former House speaker who has boasted of his southern appeal.

On Super Tuesday this week, Gingrich won only one contest — his home state of Georgia.  He lost a nearby vote in Tennessee to Rick Santorum.

People working for Gingrich’s campaign underscore the crucial importance of next Tuesday’s votes in Alabama and Mississippi, where wins could lift the candidate not only in the South, but in bigger primary states to come.

“For Newt, these two primaries are going to be extremely important,” said a Republican strategist who asked not to be named.

Gingrich is feeling the heat to win, DeLinda Ridings, the former director of his campaign in South Carolina, where Gingrich won a resounding early primary victory, said.  “Now is the time to start manning up and making those concrete decisions” about ending his bid for the nomination.

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who has endorsed Santorum, said Thursday, after unveiling a poll of 200,000 conservatives, that “there is great admiration for Newt Gingrich’s contributions to conservatism, as well as his debating abilities.  But the overwhelming sentiment was that he could most help the conservative cause by standing with Santorum so that voters have a clear choice in the remaining primaries.”

Stuart Roy, an adviser to the super PAC supporting Santorum, said in a statement after Super Tuesday that “it is time for Newt Gingrich to exit the Republican nominating process.”  He argued that Santorum would have won the primaries in Ohio and Michigan without Gingrich siphoning off conservative voters.

But people on Gingrich’s campaign say there’s no talk of him stepping down.  In fact, Gingrich’s campaign staff in Arlington, Va., have started working on strategies to leverage the delegates Gingrich wins on the floor of the Republican convention in August.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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