Newt Gingrich wrapped up a four-day campaign swing in California on Thursday with stops in Koreatown and a Jewish-American fundraiser. Gingrich was raising money, but he was also preparing for a possible showdown in the Golden State's June primary.
Some Republicans have called for him to exit the presidential race so former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum can challenge ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the sole conservative in the race. Gingrich dismissed the idea.
“This thing has had a wild rhythm," Gingrich said. "It resembles riding space mountain at Disney. I’ve been the front runner twice. I suspect I’ll be the front runner again in a few weeks.”
Gingrich reasoned Romney would increase his attacks on Santorum, who's surged recently, and that he'd be the beneficiary.
"I think part of what's going to happen is Romney's going to attack Santorum. That inevitable will take some votes away from Santorum," Gingrich said. "But they won’t go to Romney."
In Southern California, Gingrich met with Latino, Asian-American and Jewish voters. He tailored his speech to his audience. Speaking to a Jewish crowd at La Gondola restaurant in Beverly Hills, he said this country should back any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program.
“I would say unequivocally, if the Israelis reach a point where they conclude that their very survival is at stake, the United States should be supportive. We should provide them with any intelligence they need.”
In Koreatown, he promised he’d keep a strong U.S. military presence on the Korean peninsula to deter North Korea. Gingrich also described a menacing People’s Republic of China, as China’s vice president arrived in Southern California for a visit.
“We have every indication that the People’s Republic is both investing in a bigger military and that they’re prepared to throw their weight around in ways that I think are dangerous,” he said.
Many who attend his events already support Gingrich and they’re wary of the man struggling to maintain front runner status.
“Mitt Romney’s position in the past has been very wishy-washy in terms of social policies," attorney William Kil said. "Gingrich has been a very strong conservative in his belief and in his practice.”
Steve Hwangbo, who serves as the mayor pro tem of La Palma in Orange County, said he was happy to see Gingrich visit Koreatown. But he remains undecided in the Republican primary.
“We are not seeing a clear leader in this group whose presenting the positive ideas that make us feel he will turn this country around.”
Gingrich’s four-day swing through California mostly focused on fundraising. One aide said he raised $2 million in the state this year.
Gingrich's political director in California Mike Schroder said Gingrich was also preparing to do battle in the Golden State.
Under the GOP’s new rules in California, candidates compete for delegates in each of the state’s 53 congressional districts. So whoever wins each district wins the delegates from that district.
"So everything is going to change in terms of how California is campaigned to. We will be campaigned to like we are several different states," Schroder said. "Depending on what the message is, if you have a more moderate, more environmental friendly thing, you might campaign in Santa Cruz. If you have a very socially conservative message, you might campaign in the central valley or north of the bay area.”
Of course, Gingrich must stay politically alive long enough to compete in the Golden State four months from now.
Analysts, including his own political director, say the slew of state primaries on Super Tuesday next month will determine his fate.