Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign Monday began morphing into less a pursuit of the presidency and more of an effort to shape the Republican platform and to influence the discussion in the fall elections.
Campaigning in Raleigh, Gingrich said he planned battle front runner Mitt Romney in North Carolina's May 8 primary and all the way to the GOP convention in Tampa, but conceded that the prospects of overtaking the former Massachusetts governor were not bright.
But he said Republicans still face serious choices at the convention and into the fall -- whether to adhere to conservative principles or move more to the center. Gingrich said that his continued campaign would help add to that debate.
"There is no reason to concede anything," Gingrich said at a news conference. "Every vote we can get in North Carolina is a vote for a more conservative platform -- every vote we can get in Delaware, or we can get in Arkansas or we can get in Texas, that is a very useful thing to be doing. If there is a major mistake or a major flaw, the race is wide open again."
Meeting earlier with a group put together by black conservatives, Gingrich elaborated on his theme, saying he wanted Republicans up and down the ticket this fall to run on a conservative platform.
"That's why I am continuing to campaign," Gingrich said, "trying to send a signal."
He also said the campaign would also allow him to push his ideas. He said the country is in much worse shape than people realize and major changes have to be made.
Among the ideas, he said, is a plan to encourage domestic exploration for oil and gas, use gas and oil royalties to pay off the national debt, and new efforts toward brain research to solve a host of brain-related diseases.
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