The event attracted a mix of journalists, political tourists, die-hard fans and campaign staffers to the Radisson Hotel ballroom. There were never enough people to fill the room at any one time, and Andrew Hemingway, Gingrich’s young New Hampshire campaign director, asked everyone to move in before the candidate took the stage.
The Fox News Channel broadcast was projected onto a large screen to the left of the podium, which created a moment of awkwardness when the network’s coverage turned to Santorum’s speech just as Gingrich got up to give his remarks. The screen abruptly went dark, only to be turned back on when Fox began broadcasting Gingrich’s remarks.
“This is step two of a long process,” Gingrich said. “This campaign is going to go on to South Carolina. And we’re going to offer the American people something very different.”
“We’re going to offer them an opportunity to participate in very dramatic, very fundamental change in Washington, D.C., and we’re going to prove that I both understand the principles and … understand the practice.”
Gingrich, who was polling at the top of the Republican field just last month, finished well behind former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and primary winner Mitt Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor handily won the state with nearly 40 percent of the vote, followed by Paul with 23 percent and Huntsman with 17 percent. As was the case after the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich did not use his time on the stage to congratulate Romney.
Now Gingrich looks to South Carolina for his last chance to revive the fortunes of his struggling campaign. He is still polling well there, albeit behind Romney, and hopes an aggressive ad blitz combined with a populist appeal to Palmetto State conservatives will give him enough momentum to head into later contests like Florida and Nevada.
“We’re going to go all-out to win in South Carolina,” Gingrich told CNN on Tuesday. “We think that’s a key state for us. And we think that the contrast between a Georgia Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate is pretty dramatic.”