Newt Gingrich has admitted that unless he can pull out of victory in South Carolina's primary, his candidacy will be over.
Newt Gingrich came clean Tuesday afternoon, admitting that if he can't win this state's primary on Saturday, he probably can't win the Republican nomination at all.
"If I don't win the primary Saturday, we will probably nominate a moderate," the former House speaker said, referring to Mitt Romney. "And the odds are fairly high he will lose to Obama."
Gingrich's frank statement was in contrast to former Sen. Rick Santorum and his supporters, who have insisted that the former Pennsylvania senator can and will keep his candidacy alive even if Romney wins the Palmetto state and goes on to win Florida on Jan. 31.
Santorum grew testy Tuesday when pressed by The Huffington Post about how he plans to stay in the race for an extended period.
"Why are you guys so fixated on the length?" Santorum asked. "Let's just do me a favor: we'll take this one election at a time, and then I'll talk to you after this election about what we're going to do in the next election."
But the most recent poll of the state's voters held little good news for either Gingrich or Santorum, showing Romney at 33 percent, compared with Gingrich's 22 percent and Santorum's 14 percent.
And with just three days left before the South Carolina primary, there is little evidence that either Gingrich or Santorum so far is consolidating conservative support in a way that could help them beat Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
Newt is being realistic, but saying something like this before the vote is akin to defeatism. Even mentioning the possibility of dropping out or losing is enough to scare off some voters who like voting for the winner.
That said, unless the candidates have no money, there really is no reason to drop out even if Romney takes Florida as well as South Carolina. So few delegates have been chosen that staying in the race makes perfect sense.
Santorum has no plans to drop out anytime soon. And Ron Paul is in it for the long haul. Romney will probably have those two candidates dogging his steps for a couple of months yet.