Gingrich Bracing for a Challenging Week

After losing to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Florida, Newt Gingrich lost by an even greater margin in last Saturday's Nevada caucuses and this week's three contests don't look promising either.

For all of Gingrich's efforts in trying to close the gap between himself and Romney, it appears his poll numbers are headed in the opposite direction. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, Romney has a commanding 14-point lead over Gingrich, 38 to 24 percent. As a point of comparison, both men were tied in mid-December with around 30 percent each.

On Tuesday, both Colorado and Minnesota hold their caucuses and Missouri has a primary contest although it is considered "non-binding," with delegates to be determined on March 17. On Saturday, Maine will hold its caucuses.

Also noteworthy in recent polls is the fact that Gingrich trails both Santorum and Romney in Colorado and Minnesota and the former speaker is not even on the Missouri ballot, something his campaign says was intentional.

"The Missouri primary doesn't have any delegates attached to it," noted Gingrich in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in December. "And so this was a conscious decision; this was not an oversight."

Regardless of his strategy, the decision to stay off the ballot may come back to haunt him as the week progresses.

After coming off a nice win last month in South Carolina's GOP primary, Gingrich has struggled – partly due to Romney's strength in Florida and partly over two less-than-stellar debate performances.

Since his win in South Carolina, Gingrich has been suggesting that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum drop out of the race – a request that Santorum rebuked rather quickly.

On Monday, the two candidates crossed paths in Colorado and Gingrich was asked again if he thought Santorum should leave the race. Gingrich remarked that Santorum was on track to have a "pretty good day," and that he had "earned" it.

"He targeted it differently than I did. I was out of state in Florida to fight it out despite being outspent five to one and for me that was the right decision," Gingrich told ABC News. "He took the same amount of time and energy and he came to Minnesota, and Missouri and Colorado and for him that was the right decision.

On CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Gingrich said his strategy was to get past the Super Tuesday races in early March and the Texas primary.

"The goal is to basically be about tied [with Romney] in delegates around the time we come out of Texas," Gingrich said.

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