BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Newt Gingrich's defeats in his must-win home region of the Deep South on Tuesday ensure that his White House bid is all but over -- even if he refuses to acknowledge it.
The former House speaker is vowing to stay in the race even though he's low on cash and facing pressure to step aside after losses in Mississippi and Alabama.
"Why would I walk off from my party and leave them with two people who can't win?" Gingrich recently told The Associated Press. He said he would stay in the contest even if he lost in the region that's home to Georgia, which he represented in Congress.
Gingrich finished second in both Mississippi and Alabama behind Rick Santorum.
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Publicly undeterred, Gingrich and his wife, Callista, traveled to Illinois on Wednesday to campaign there ahead of its primary next Tuesday, and he's promising to take his fight to the party's national convention in Florida in late August.
"He believes he can do this. But he and Callista are probably the only two people who believe it," said former top Gingrich aide Rich Galen, a GOP strategist. Still, Galen warned that Gingrich's status as an elder statesman of the party could take a hit if he continues his campaign much longer. "It makes him look foolish."
Two and a half months into the state-by-state voting, the two biggest questions hanging over the race are whether Gingrich drops out and whether his largest financial backer -- casino titan Sheldon Adelson -- will continue to open his wallet for a pro-Gingrich super political action committee that has run millions of dollars in TV ads on his behalf.