Newt Gingrich is re-organizing his campaign for a final showdown at the GOP convention in Tampa this summer.
"We are still in the fight," said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond in an email to Newsmax. "Redesigning staff to build a 'big choice' whip operation for the GOP convention in Tampa."
Gingrich is formulating a new plan to deny GOP front-runner Mitt Romney the 1,144 delegates he needs to win the nomination.
Hammond stressed that the new strategy doesn't change Gingrich's promise to support Romney if Romney does amass the necessary delegates before the party convenes in August.
“We’re focusing exclusively on what it’ll take to win what we’re going to be calling a big-choice convention in August,” communications director Joe DeSantis said in a phone interview Tuesday night with Politico.
Gingrich will continue to visit states with primaries, but will have a less intense campaign schedule.
DeSantis told Politico the campaign will be “more positive and ideas-focused,” eschewing attacks on Republican rivals. The aide said the campaign will be more digital, focusing on low-cost communications tools, including informational videos, social media and the web.
“We think that a big part of how we succeed is getting back to core Gingrich, which is a focus on big ideas and positive solutions – having someone who is intimately aware of Newt’s policy positions and the way things are framed, and has been working with Newt for so long on the policy front. We think that having him as the campaign manager is very important," DeSantis told Politico.
Senior adviser Randy Evans says several Gingrich staffers have been let go to focus on technological improvements for the campaign.
Evans says the campaign will focus less on field organizing and more on technical enhancements. He calls the decision a matter of cost efficiency for the campaign.
One-third of Gingrich's campaign staff has been laid off and his campaign manager, Michael Krull, has been asked to resign, Hammond said Tuesday night.
Gingrich plans to spend much less time in primary states and will instead personally call delegates to try to persuade them to back him at the Republican National Convention in August.
"We are not going to cede to Mitt Romney's strategy to take the party down," Hammond told The Associated Press. Ultimately, Gingrich would bring the fight to the convention floor, Hammond said.
Gingrich still promises to support Romney if Romney collects the necessary 1,144 delegates before the convention, Hammond said.
Hammond and campaign communications director Joe DeSantis will remain with the campaign. Both have been working for Gingrich for more than a year.
The rollback in the campaign comes after Gingrich listed more than $1.5 million in outstanding debt by the end of February, according to Federal Election Commission filings, including legal fees and advertising production costs. At the same time, he had about $1.5 million cash on hand, the least of the four GOP candidates.
Campaigning Tuesday in Maryland, Gingrich conceded that he is strapped for campaign funds. "The money is very tight, obviously," he said. "That's why we're trying to raise more money."
Rick Santorum, Gingrich's rival for the anti-Romney vote among conservatives, responded to the news that Gingrich was scaling back his campaign by urging Republicans to back his effort, not Romney's.
"One of the things I was told very early on in presidential politics is that you run for president as long as the money hangs on," Santorum told reporters Tuesday night in Delavan Lake, Wis.
"I think it is time for all the Republican candidates to coalesce behind me," Santorum said. "You know, let's just have a conservative nominee to take on Barack Obama. Until that time happens, I'm not going to call on anyone to get out."
Hobbled by weak fundraising and well behind Romney in the hunt for delegates, Gingrich has been under growing pressure to help unify Republicans by dropping out of the race.
In a nod to those who think he should give way to Romney, Gingrich on Tuesday pledged to support his rival's bid if the former Massachusetts governor wins enough convention delegates to clinch the nomination by the end of the GOP primary season in June.
"Obviously I will support him and will be delighted to do anything I can to help defeat Barack Obama," Gingrich told reporters in Annapolis, Md. Republicans vote in the Maryland primary next week.
If Romney falls short, Gingrich said, "I think you'll then have one of the most interesting, open conventions in American history."
Gingrich tried to position himself as an antiestablishment figure in the race while playing up the 20 years he spent in the House, including a stint as speaker. He has struggled since his campaign peaked just before the Iowa caucuses kicked off the nominating process in January. Devastating attacks from Romney and a Romney-aligned super PAC have helped to deny him further victories.
Gingrich had hoped for a Southern-based comeback in the race, but Santorum won contests in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
The former House speaker has won just two primaries, in South Carolina and Georgia, and has less than 15 percent of delegates so far.
Romney is the front-runner with 568 delegates, based on a tally by The Associated Press. That is slightly less than half the needed 1,144 delegates, and more than four times as many delegates as Gingrich, who has 135.
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