Gingrich hoping to beat Paul for 2nd place in Nev.

By Shannon Mccaffrey

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 4 2012 2:31 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, campaigns in Las Vegas, Nev. By now it's clear that the Republican nomination contest of the 2012 presidential race is showing the nation candidates' stylistic extremes rarely seen in modern presidential politics.

Evan Vucci, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has little hope for an upset in Nevada's caucuses and instead is looking to best rival Ron Paul for second place.

Trounced in Florida on Tuesday, Gingrich had just a few days to regroup in Nevada, a state that front-runner Mitt Romney won when he sought the GOP nomination in 2008.

Gingrich is skipping the traditional candidate victory party Saturday night and is planning to hold a news conference on the outcome.

The former House speaker has a sparse campaign operation in Nevada and took part in just five public events before caucus-goers were set to begin. Neither Gingrich nor a political action committee backing him ran television ads in the state.

In an interview Friday with Fox News, Gingrich said he hopes to defeat Paul's strong Nevada organization to claim second place. Romney too is well-organized here and will pull considerable support from his fellow Mormons.

"We expect Governor Romney to come in first," Gingrich told Fox. "There's a very large Mormon population here."

Gingrich faces a tough road in February. The election calendar includes several states favorable to Romney.

Nevada has been hit hard by the housing meltdown and high jobless rates. Gingrich has touted his tax plan, which he says would spur the economy.

Gingrich used a speech at a country music club to blister Romney, calling the former Massachusetts governor "Obama lite." He argued that Romney's polices are not substantially different than those of the Democratic President Barack Obama.

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