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Newt Gingrich vows to go on following loss in the Nevada caucuses

Newt Gingrich
Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a news conference Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 in Las Vegas. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Following a second lopsided defeat to Mitt Romney in a week, Newt Gingrich on Saturday night again pledged to go on the Republican nomination fight all the way to the Republican convention this summer in Tampa.

"I will be a candidate for president of the United States," Gingrich told reporters at a Las Vegas hotel following projections from CBS News and others that Romney would handily win the caucuses. "And we will continue to campaign all the way to Tampa."

Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary two weeks ago, has vowed several times in the past week since losing to Romney in Florida on Tuesday that he would not withdraw from the race. He said on Saturday he expects the primary campaign to go on for a "long time."

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"We will leave on Monday to go to Denver and then to Minneapolis and then we will go on to four cities in Ohio," he said. "I expect the debate to continue for a long time."

With his third victory in the Republican nominating process, Romney is now firmly established as the GOP front-runner. And the month of February looks like it could bring more victories for the former Massachusetts governor: There are six more states that will hold their caucuses or primaries in February, and Romney won four of them in 2008.

But the race is far from over. Ten states hold their contests on "Super Tuesday," which falls on March 6, including several states which Gingrich could expect to do well in and pick up delegates. Not including Nevada's delegates (which will be awarded proportionally), Romney has just 80 delegates at this point -- far from the 1,144 needed to secure the GOP nomination.

Full Nevada caucus results
Full Nevada entrance poll
Results by County
Estimated Republican Delegate Scorecard
Full GOP primary results

In anticipation of a Romney victory in Nevada, Gingrich scheduled a press conference rather than the traditional election night rally. Gingrich spent much of the news conference attacking Romney, and in particular blasted him over comments the former Massachusetts governor made earlier this week when he said he was "not concerned about the very poor."

"I think actually this week, several things clarified themselves that are helpful," Gingrich said. "Unlike Governor Romney, I care deeply about helping the poorest Americans. I believe the Declaration of Independence is a commitment that our creator endowed us the right to pursue happiness... And one of the challenges of conservatism is to turn the safety net into a trampoline."

Gingrich continued: "I am not as comfortable as Governor Romney said he was simply allowing people to languish in the safety net. That is a difference between the two of us."

Full CBS News coverage: Newt Gingrich