Updated at 1:13 a.m. ET Jan. 3
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa - Having faded in the polls after a late autumn surge, Newt Gingrich on Monday gave a pessimistic assessment of his chances in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses.
"I don't think I'm going to win" the state, Gingrich told reporters, citing the more than $3 million in negative ads run in the Hawkeye State criticizing his record. "That volume of negativity has done enough damage. But on the other hand, if the Des Moines Register was right and 41 percent [are] potentially undecided, who knows what's going to happen?"
At a subsequent event in Davenport, Gingrich acknowledged his remarks did not sit well with one of his Iowa workers, and he sought to walk back his earlier statement.
"I got chewed out a little bit by one of our precinct captains who said to me I should not under any circumstance expect to do anything except to potentially win tomorrow night because he was going to his precinct and he was confident by the time he was done he would have converted all of the people who had foolishly thought they might be for Romney to be for me ... If each of you will go to the caucus and will make the best possible argument for nominating an experienced conservative with a national record of achieving things, we may pull off one of the great upsets in the history of the Iowa caucuses."
Gingrich has previously sought to downplay his chances of winning Iowa, but Monday's acknowledgment underscores just how much his campaign rests on a strong showing in South Carolina. Polls last month showed him with (PDF) a substantial lead over Mitt Romney there.
At a subsequent stop in Walford, Gingrich stressed he remains "very optimistic in the long run. We'll do okay [Tuesday]. And we'll do very well, we'll do very well by the time we get the nomination this spring."
Asked if he could still beat President Obama, he answered, "Oh sure. Yeah, yeah, yes."