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Gingrich asks for support for ‘next eight years’

Im here to ask you to be with me, Gingrich said Wednesday at a town hall in Mason City, Iowa. We need you, Callista and I need you to be with us for the next eight years to stand side-by-side.

The former House Speaker also told Iowans that he was confident he could beat Obama in a general election contest. 

I believe we will win the general election decisively and I will challenge the president to seven three-hour debates, Gingrich added. 

Gingrich gained attention earlier this month when he displayed a similar confidence in an ABC interview. 

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“I’m going to be the nominee,” he told ABC News. “It’s very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee.” 

Gingrich’s poll numbers have declined sharply in recent weeks as attacks from his GOP opponents have increased.

Fellow contenders have been highly critical of Gingrich’s record, including a back-and-forth in the media with Mitt Romney over healthcare reform. Ron Paul’s campaign has released a series of ads blasting the former Speaker. Paul launched an ad Wednesday that refers to Gingrich as a “serial hypocrite.” 

Gingrich on Wednesday reaffirmed his pledge to run a positive ad campaign. 

“I think that we have enough trouble in this country that we ought to have a campaign of positive ideas and positive solutions, because the only person helped by negative ads is Barack Obama,” Gingrich said. 

With the Iowa caucus less than a week away, Paul is leading the GOP field in the state with 24 percent, according to a Public Policy Poll released Wednesday.

Romney followed close behind in the poll with 20 percent and Gingrich came in a distant third with 13 percent. Only a month ago, Gingrich led the field at 27 percent, but his decision not to counter the barrage of attack ads against him in Iowa appears to have diminished support for his candidacy. 

Jonathan Easley contributed.