Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich may not have finished in the top ranks in Iowa, but he thinks upcoming primaries are still up for grabs and his Reagan-like leanings still make him a contender.
"I think our plan is to compete with Romney here in New Hampshire, which is clearly his stronghold," Gingrich said in an interview with CNBC Wednesday as he campaigned in the state. "It's one of his best three states. I mean if he can't win here he wouldn't be able to stay in the race; so I assume he'll win here but I think we can make it much narrower and I think we can draw sharply the distinction between his kind of moderate Massachusetts approach and my kind of Reagan conservative approach. And then I think our goal is to win in South Carolina and Florida."
The GOP contender finished fourth in the party's Iowa Caucus Tuesday, behind front runner Mitt Romney, who squeaked past former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum with 25 percent of the vote. Rep. Ron Paul finished close behind in third place with 21 percent. Gingrich finished a distant fourth at 13 percent.
Gingrich had been stronger in early polls for the race but faded as the actual day of voting approached. He blamed negative campaigning by Romney's allies.
"We're not going to be running the kind of attack ads he's been running," the former speaker said. "We're not going to run ads that lie about his record. But it is fair to say that as a Massachusetts moderate his record is very dramatically different than a Reagan conservative. And so starting this morning in the New Hampshire Union Leader we laid out a full page ad that shows you, you know, how big the gap is."
Gingrich clearly indicated he would be campaigning on his conservative credentials.
"It's something that the American people have to ask. I mean, if someone has no record of reforming things and no record of actually achieving anything in terms of conservative values, then having them give speeches about their conservatism I think has to be seen as suspect."
But it was also clear during the interview that he maintained some anger about the tactics he believed his rival's supporters had engaged in.
"I think it would be helpful to tell the truth about his positions, it would be helpful to tell the truth about his PAC (political action committee), which he won't even tell us who gives him all the money. It would be helpful for his PAC to tell the truth in their ads—in all three of those accounts they fail."