Gingrich talks trees, not losses, in primary night speech

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign rally in Rome, Ga., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

As the votes rolled in Tuesday night for primary contests in Michigan and Arizona, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich delivered lengthy remarks in his home state of Georgia, discussing everything from gas prices to the Middle East in a speech that ran more than 36 minutes long.

But there was a notable omission in the former House speaker's speech: The candidate made no mention of the votes being cast in Michigan and Arizona.

Instead, Gingrich touted his history at West Georgia College, where he taught in the 1970s; he blasted the Obama administration for its energy policy and foreign policy initiatives, and he told a lengthy story about cutting down a tree.

Full Michigan results
Michigan exit poll
Arizona exit poll

"I thought I would take a couple minutes and tell a couple of stories," Gingrich said, shortly after coming onstage. "Because I haven't been back in this kind of setting and it's kind of-- triggers memories as people came through that I've known over the years, and to... the many things I learned here at West Georgia College."

After recounting a five-minute-long tale about a tree falling on a house - which generated a healthy supply of jokes on Twitter - the candidate pivoted to attacks on the Obama administration. Particularly targeting the White House on its policies in energy and in the Middle East, Gingrich argued that "no one in this administration is prepared to stand up for any of our values."

Gingrich did not campaign seriously in either Michigan or Arizona, essentially conceding the contests.

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Instead, the candidate urged his supporters to vote in next week's so-called "Super Tuesday" primaries, in which voters in ten states will make their choices for a Republican presidential nominee. Among those states is Georgia, where Gingrich served in Congress for twenty years.

Gingrich has suggested his campaign strategy involves putting together a series of victories in southern states, culminating with a win in Texas's primary this spring, which would give him a huge boost in delegates and allow him to stay in the game. Gingrich does have a lead in Georgia thus far - but Santorum appears to be leading him in Ohio, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

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On the rope line following his speech Tuesday, Gingrich said he wasn't going to "get into" the possible impact of the evening's primary contests, and focused on his South-heavy strategy.

"We're very confident going forward," Gingrich said.

"It's vital that we carry Georgia... the odds are pretty good that we're going to carry Georgia. We're going to keep campaigning here. We're going to keep developing ideas. We had a great time in Tennessee with Fred Thompson yesterday. I was in Oklahoma last week and then Ohio - we'll be back in Ohio Saturday so we're going to keep working it," he said.


Full Arizona results
Full Republican delegate scorecard
Nationwide primary results so far

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