Gingrich works to avoid Georgia primary upset

9:07 PM, Feb 14, 2012   |    comments
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Newt Gingrich (NBC)

ATLANTA -- As Newt Gingrich's volunteers worked a phone bank at his Buckhead headquarters, the PAC supporting Mitt Romney began running anti-Gingrich commercials on Georgia TV stations.

Between that and Romney's appearance in Atlanta last week, the former Massachusetts governor is gunning for an upset -- one that could potentially end Gingrich's chance at the Republican nomination.

"Georgia is very important-- first of all for a lot of personal reasons. His roots are here in Georgia," said Jackie Gingrich Cushman, the former House Speaker's daughter.

Gingrich won eleven elections in Georgia from 1978 to 1998 before all but disappearing from Georgia following his abrupt departure from Congress. Gingrich's Georgia roots are what make him the candidate to beat on March 6th -- but they're also what would make a loss here potentially devastating to his candidacy.

A recent New York Times / CBS poll showed Gingrich in fourth place among Republicans surveyed nationally.  Georgia Republicans vote March 6.

Gov. Nathan Deal says Gingrich does "not necessarily" have to win Georgia, "but I certainly expect him to win Georgia and I think he will."

Deal is Gingrich's highest-profile backer in his home state -- and he strove to lower expectations for Gingrich, three weeks from primary day.

"No one state is a make-or-break proposition.  And we've seen that this year, as the roller coaster has continued throughout the primary (season)," Deal said.


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