ATLANTA, March 2 (UPI) -- Newt Gingrich hunkered down in Georgia and said he thinks he must win its primary "to be credible" in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
The former House speaker represented Georgia when he was in Congress.
Before his poor showing in a debate and this week's primaries in Arizona and Michigan, Gingrich said he'd claim Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma on Super Tuesday and be in contention for delegates in Ohio.
On Thursday, however, Gingrich offered a different path for a comeback that goes past Tuesday's 10-state sweepstakes, The New York Times reported Friday.
"Let me just be clear: I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race," Gingrich said during a breakfast with business leaders in Atlanta. "If I win Georgia, the following week we go to Alabama and Mississippi. I think I'll win both of those. And we have a good opportunity to win Kansas [on March 10]."
Gingrich, who's been crisscrossing Georgia since Monday, is trying to regain the momentum he had to win South Carolina before he lost big in Florida.
Analysts said Republican voters now perceive the scramble for the party's nomination to be a two-man race between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
"I think people figured out this is down to Santorum and Romney," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Santorum supporter who expects Gingrich won't do well in Ohio. "Among the traditional Republican base … Rick has got a stronger message than Newt does."
R.C. Hammond, Gingrich's spokesman, said the candidate wasn't ignoring other Super Tuesday states and plans to visit Ohio and Tennessee before voting begins, the Times said.
"The campaign has long known that the primary season is set up to go for a long time," Hammond said. "You have to get to 1,144 [delegates]. … It's not going to happen Wednesday morning."