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Newt Gingrich stands his ground: 'We are staying in this race'

Newt Gingrich declared Wednesday that he would continue in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, while taking a swipe at front-runner and GOP rival Mitt Romney during a campaign rally in Montgomery, Ala.

"We are staying in this race, because I believe that it's going to be impossible for a moderate to win the general election," Gingrich said.

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Gingrich has repeatedly slammed Romney on the campaign trail as a "Massachusetts moderate" and drawn comparisons between the former governor and President Obama. Rather, he said, the GOP needed a truly conservative candidate.

"We tried it in 1996 and it didn't work. We tried it in 2008 and it didn't work. You can't have somebody where the gap between 'RomneyCare' and 'ObamaCare' is so narrow that you can't figure out what the debate is," he said. 

Romney's campaign, for its part, has tried to portray the former Massachusetts governor as the most electable candidate in a head-to-head match-up against the president come November. 

Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House, also took shots at opponent Rick Santorum's conservative credentials.

"With all respect to my friend from Pennsylvania, Sen. Santorum, there is a big difference between being a good team member and changing the game. I'm not going to Washington to be a good team member, I'm going to Washington to change Washington," he said.

A super-PAC that supports Santorum on Wednesday called for Gingrich to withdraw from the presidential contest, arguing his candidacy has become a “hindrance” to conservatives looking to take down Romney.

Gingrich, who won only Georgia among Super Tuesday's 10 competitions, canceled planned events in Kansas to instead focus on upcoming contests in the South. 

His campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond acknowledged Wednesday that the former Speaker needs wins in Alabama and Mississippi to remain a credible candidate.