- (Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich confirmed once again on Monday he is in the Republican presidential race to stay, describing front-runner Mitt Romney as "the weakest front-runner in modern times."
"I think the morning that he gets 1,144 that are locked down, then I think he can claim to be the nominee," Gingrich told reporters. "But until then, don't think he can be the nominee."
After the Louisiana primary on Saturday, Romney leads with 565 delegates; Rick Santorum is second with 256, followed by Gingrich with 141 and Ron Paul with 66.
Calls for Gingrich to exit the race have come from multiple venues, including the Santorum campaign who say the only chance of challenging Romney would be to narrow down the field and avoid splitting the conservative vote in future primaries.
However, the Gingrich campaign seems to have bigger problems centered on money and press coverage.
Politico first reported on Monday that two full-time print reporters, also known as "embedded" reporters, from Politico and the Atlanta Journal Constitution were pulled from the Gingrich campaign after the Illinois primary. This leaves the Gingrich campaign with only major television networks covering his day-to-day activities.
Yet another sign of Gingrich's struggling money problems is he is now charging $50 to have a photo taken with him at events.
"Some campaigns make you travel all the way to Wall Street to pay $2,500 for a photo with a candidate," wrote a Gingrich spokesman in an email. "We are trying out a new tactic and asking our supporters at our rallies for a nominal donation. And guess what, it is working."
Supposedly a campaign staffer will snap a photo with Gingrich and supporters, then post the photo on the campaign's website at Newt.org. The individual or group will then be able to download the photo after providing information and a paying with a credit card.
Poor showings in the last few weeks' southern primaries have been one reason the campaign has struggled financially. Their February report showed they now have more debt than cash on hand and that they only raised $2.6 million in February.
Gingrich is campaigning in the Washington, D.C. area this week before heading to Maryland and Wisconsin by week's end.