By Alicia M. Cohn - 01/31/12 01:17 PM EST
Newt Gingrich on Tuesday said he's uniting conservative voters in the GOP race but warned that the longer the vote remains split between candidates, the more likely it is Mitt Romney will win the nomination.
"I'm clearly the front-runner among conservatives," Gingrich told Fox News, touting his big-name endorsements including Michael Reagan, Herman Cain and Todd Palin. "We're bringing conservatives together. ... The longer that conservatives stay split, the harder it's going to be to stop a governor who is pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase."
Gingrich sidestepped when asked if he's calling on Rick Santorum to drop out of the race.
"Rick's got to do what he believes is essential," Gingrich said. "The longer conservatives are split the more likely it is we'll end up with a nominee who is a moderate and will have a very hard time beating Obama."
Santorum pushed back later in the morning on Fox News, saying: "I don't think people should be telling other folks to get out of the race and get out of my way. If you want to run a race, run a race. You don't ask someone to quit just because you think you're the better candidate. I think I'm the better candidate but Newt has every right to run."
"I won't try to compete in the singing department," Gingrich said, adding that his wife, Callista, sings in a professional choir and could be a contender in that area.