Aide says Gingrich cutting back campaign to focus on convention
WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will lay off about a third of his campaign staff and is scaling back his schedule to focus on a strategy for the party's nominating convention, a campaign aide confirmed on Tuesday.
Politico first reported the moves in what aides to the former U.S. House of Representatives speaker are calling a "big choice convention" strategy.
"We're focusing exclusively on what it'll take to win what we're going to be calling a big-choice convention in August," Gingrich communications director Joe DeSantis told Politico earlier.
Another campaign spokesman, R.C. Hammond, confirmed the report and said the changes were in no way a sign that Gingrich might be preparing to bring his presidential run to a close.
"It's quite the opposite," Hammond told Reuters. "It means Newt is designing the campaign to be ready to take the floor in Tampa."
Gingrich has won only two contests in the Republican state-by-state nominating race and is in third place in the number of pledged delegates to the party's nominating convention in Tampa, Florida in August.
If Gingrich were to end his campaign, it could boost the prospects of rival Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania who is now the main challenger to front-runner Mitt Romney.
Gingrich has been under pressure from conservatives to step aside and allow Santorum to lead the charge against Romney.
(Reporting By JoAnne Allen; Editing by Paul Simao)
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