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Gingrich says during NC stop he'll stay in GOP presidential race

WILMINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich went to the heart of North Carolina’s sports passion during a campaign stop Wednesday, saying he intends to remain in the race for his party’s nomination.
“I think my job is to say, ‘Wait a second. We have every right to campaign until it’s over,’ and it’s not over till it’s over,” Gingrich said in an interview with WWAY-TV in Wilmington.
“So people say, ‘Why don’t you drop out?’ That’s exactly wrong. This is a great state for sports. You expect basketball teams to play the entire game,” he said. “I mean, if they came out and said, ‘Well, gee, we really had a bad first half. Why don’t we quit at halftime?’ people would think they were crazy.”
Gingrich made a campaign appearance at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington sponsored by a Republican student group.
The former House speaker said people have walked up to him and urged him to stay in the race, represent their values and fight for conservatism.
“I think there’s a feeling that they want to send a signal from North Carolina that they want a more conservative platform, a more conservative candidate,” he said.
Several hundred supporters packed UNCW’s Lumina Theater to see Gingrich. His goal, he said, was to get to an open convention in August. But he said he would support the eventual Republican nominee.
“It’s a straightforward choice,” he said. “Who is better for the American future: the Republican nominee or Barack Obama?”
Gingrich’s appearance in Wilmington comes one day after he finished third in primaries in the District of Columbia and Maryland, and fourth in Wisconsin.
Before his visit to Wilmington, Gingrich stopped in Raleigh, where he said he was encouraged by his showing in recent polls in North Carolina. He said he plans to tap his Southern roots and ties to the state to appeal to voters, and that he expects to do well in the state’s May 9 primary.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, holds a commanding lead in delegates to the Republican National Convention and is on a pace to clinch the party’s top prize by the end of the primary season in June.
The Associated Press delegate count shows Romney with 658 delegates, more than halfway to the 1,144 needed for the nomination. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has 281, Gingrich 135 and Texas congressman Ron Paul 51.

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