Gingrich earns support of Tea Party favorite Rep. Westmoreland

Newt Gingrich scored the endorsement of Tea Party favorite Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) Thursday, making him the eighth member of Congress — and the fifth member of the Georgia delegation — to back the newly minted Republican front-runner in the presidential race.

“Newt is a true conservative and a proven leader who has focused his campaign on the issues, presenting real solutions to the problems facing our country today,” Westmoreland said in a statement. “He is uniting conservatives across the country and I believe he is the best man to defeat President Obama. I'm proud to put my support behind Newt and look forward to helping him win back the White House."

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While Gingrich has taken a formidable lead in the polls — a CNN/Time poll released Wednesday showed the former House Speaker with double-digit leads among national voters, as well as in early-voting primary states including Iowa, South Carolina and Florida — he still trails Mitt Romney in terms of congressional endorsements. According to The Hill's tally of lawmaker endorsements, Romney currently leads the field with the support of 55 lawmakers.

Romney has also rolled out a string of high-profile endorsements in the past week — including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), members of the House GOP leadership.

But Gingrich is hoping that Westmoreland's Tea Party credentials will help him consolidate his conservative base. Westmoreland famously sponsored a bill to place the Ten Commandments in the House, Senate and federal judicial buildings.

“I’m delighted to have the support of my friend Lynn Westmoreland, a true conservative leader for Georgia,” Gingrich said. “Our campaign continues to build momentum and enthusiasm, as voters increasingly understand that we are the conservative choice in this election.”