WASHINGTON Republican candidate Newt Gingrich conceded on Sunday that front-runner Mitt Romney is most likely to win their party's presidential nomination, but said he will remain in the race, partly to help the party build a solidly conservative platform ahead of the November 6 election.
"I think you have to be realistic," Gingrich told the "Fox News Sunday," television program. "He (Romney) is far and away the most likely nominee."
The former speaker of the House of Representatives, running a distant third in the nominating race to challenge President Barack Obama behind former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum, acknowledged his struggling campaign is "operating on a shoestring."
His campaign would be severely constrained by a lack of funds, he said, but that was no reason for him to get out of the race now. "People don't walk up and say 'Oh please drop out.' People walk up and say 'I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you're talking about ideas. Please stay in,'" Gingrich said.
"And so I do think there's a desire for a more idea-orientated Republican Party," Gingrich told Fox News.
"If I end up not being the nominee, I'd want to work this fall to help defeat Obama," he said of the Democratic president. "The primary goal is to defeat Obama."
"It's clear that Governor Romney has done a very good job of building a substantial machine," Gingrich said, adding that he thought Romney would probably accept "a very solid, aggressive conservative platform" that he could campaign on this fall.
"I would work as hard for him (Romney) as I would work for myself," he said.
A conservative Republican policy platform should address issues like America's goal of independence from foreign oil and a comprehensive energy policy as well as a balanced budget provision that would include a fund for debt repayment financed by royalties from oil and gas, Gingrich said.
(Reporting by Christopher Wilson; editing by Todd Eastham)