Newt Gingrich's Last Stand?

Can the former Speaker of the House capitalize on Santorum's fall?

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With Rick Santorum out, it's full steam ahead for Newt Gingrich.

Shortly after the former Pennsylvania senator announced that he would suspend his campaign, the former Speaker of the House released a statement commending the candidate while beseeching his backers for their support.

[See Photos of Newt Gingrich]

"I humbly ask Senator Santorum's supporters to visit to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa," he said.

He also reiterated two of his campaign's long-standing talking points: his staying power and his ideological bona fides.

"I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice," said Gingrich.

The question is to what degree Santorum's supporters will move to the Gingrich camp, as opposed to lining up behind the clear front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. With Santorum out, Gingrich is now banking on his far-right values, calling himself the "last conservative standing," as he put it in an E-mail to his own supporters late Tuesday afternoon.

A mid-March Gallup poll suggests that winning over Santorum's supporters might be a tough fight.

That poll showed that if Gingrich dropped out, his support would be split nearly even between second choices Santorum and Romney. That may not predict what Santorum supporters would currently do, but it does suggest they don't see the race in Gingrich's stark true-conservative-versus-Massachusetts-moderate terms.

To push forward, Gingrich of course must also still rally his own supporters. In his Tuesday E-mail to supporters, he set a lofty goal for his backers: "As the last remaining conservative in this race, we urgently need your financial support today. We have set an ambitious goal of 12,000 donations by midnight [Wednesday]."

  • See why Gingrich is sticking around.
  • Check out U.S. News' Ballot 2012 blog.
  • See why Santorum is still fundraising.