Gingrich cancels Kansas trip to focus on South

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, speaks at a rally in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, March 7, 2012. AP Photo/David Bundy)

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, speaks at a rally in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
AP Photo/David Bundy)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Newt Gingrich is cancelling his planned trip to Kansas this week and will instead campaign entirely in Alabama and Mississippi, two states that go to the polls next week -- and which are must-wins if his Presidential campaign is to continue.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond confirmed as much on Wednesday when asked if the former House speaker had to win both of the Southern states to remain viable.

"Yes," Hammond told reporters before a rally in Montgomery. He added, "A big win in Georgia kept us in the race. Big wins in Alabama and Mississippi will add even more fuel to the tank."

Hammond also responded to calls from some Republicans for Gingrich to get out of the race so that the conservative vote can consolidate behind Rick Santorum, who had a better showing than Gingrich on Super Tuesday. Gingrich won only his home state of Georgia, while Santorum won three states and Mitt Romney won six.

"That's flawed logic," Hammond said, suggesting that similar calls could be made for Santorum to leave the race, allowing Gingrich to consolidate the vote.

Gingrich, who often hits Romney on the campaign trail for being too moderate a candidate to defeat President Obama, turned his attention to his more conservative competitor in a speech to supporters at a Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery.

"I would say with all respect to my friend from Pennsylvania Senator Santorum," Gingrich said, "there is a big difference between being a good team member and changing the game. I'm not going to Washington to be a good team member. I'm going to Washington to change Washington itself."

He cited Santorum's votes against right-to-work laws in Pennsylvania and insinuated that his competitor had sold out. Gingrich pointed to his own votes against tax increases put forth by both Republican and Democratic presidents as an example that he could be trusted to stand his ground on issues of importance to conservatives.

"I voted against Republican presidents and I voted against Democratic presidents because being committed to my conscience was more important than being on a team that was doing the wrong thing," he said.

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    Sarah Huisenga is covering the Mitt Romney campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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