POLITICS
02/19/2012 10:01 am ET | Updated Feb 20, 2012

Newt Gingrich: Home State Loss Means 'Badly Weakened Candidacy'

In a pointed attack on Mitt Romney ahead of the Michigan primary, Newt Gingrich said that any presidential candidate who loses his home state would be "badly weakened" and might have a hard time continuing in the race.

"There's a whole rationale which is now built on [Romney's] ability to win, and if he loses his home state, I don't see what they say to their donors to stay in the race," Gingrich said to Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "If any of the three of us lose our home state -- if Santorum loses Pennsylvania, Romney loses Michigan or I lose Georgia -- you have, I think, a very badly weakened candidacy."

Gingrich declined to say that he would quit the race if he lost in Georgia.

"Given the chaos of this race, I'm not ready to say anything, but I'm certainly willing to say I think it's extraordinarily important to carry your home state, and it has all sorts of underlying impact if you don't," he said.

Romney faces an uphill battle in his home state of Michigan (where he was born and where his father, George Romney, was governor), as recent polls show him trailing Rick Santorum by a few percentage points. Meanwhile, polls in Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania show the former senator holding a slim lead over Romney.

In Georgia, Gingrich so far holds a comfortable lead over the field in recent polls, but on Saturday he did lose a symbolic straw poll there to Ron Paul.

Later on the show, Gingrich defended his campaign's significant reliance on the funding of a single person, Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, saying that the money provided a much needed balance to Romney's "Wall Streeet money."

He said Adelson's support for Gingrich's campaign rested largely on their shared concerns about Israel.

"Sheldon Adelson is desperately worried about an Iranian nuclear weapon and desperately worries about the survival of the state of Israel, and I'm the strongest candidate on foreign policy and the strongest candidate on national security," Gingrich said. "It's a very open relationship. And I'm happy to say I'm very worried about the Iranian nuclear weapon, and I think we should do everything we can to make sure Israel survives."

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