Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said his rival Mitt Romney is “far and away” the most likely candidate to win the Republican nomination.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” the former speaker of the House said today he’ll endorse Romney if he gets a majority of the delegates to the Republican nominating convention.
“I have no regrets, but it’s clear that Governor Romney had done a very good job of building a very substantial machine,” Gingrich said on Fox. He added that his campaign is in debt and that he spent money in a “real brawl” in Florida, where he lost the Jan. 31 primary to Romney.
“We’re operating on a shoestring,” said Gingrich, 68.
After the latest round of primary voting, Romney has 658 delegates, according to an Associated Press tally. That is more than half the 1,144 needed to capture the nomination. Former Senator Rick Santorum has 281 delegates, Gingrich trails with 135 delegates and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas has 51.
If Romney is the nominee, Gingrich said, “I will work as hard for him as I would for myself” during the fall campaign. Republicans are all committed to defeating Democratic President Barack Obama, a “genuine radical,” he said.
Obama hasn’t identified a clear plan for reducing the federal budget deficit and debt, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said on Fox.
Johnson, who has endorsed Romney, said voters in November would encounter an “extremely stark choice.”
“We need presidential leadership and we have none,” he said.
What’s lacking, said Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, is bipartisan cooperation. Conrad, of North Dakota, is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and has endorsed plans to reduce the deficit that rely on spending cuts and tax increases.
“If we don’t get together, we can’t accomplish anything,” he said.
Conrad said he saw the possibility of a broad budget agreement emerging after the election. He said that could happen either before or after Jan. 1, when income tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take effect.
Congress returns to work on the week of April 16. The Senate is scheduled to consider the “Buffett Rule,” a tax bill backed by Democrats that would require people making over $2 million to pay at least a 30 percent effective tax rate.
The rule is named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has called for higher taxes on investment income.
Obama is planning a speech on the Buffett Rule April 10 in Boca Raton, Florida.
The election may turn on independent voters’ views of economic policy, Ohio Governor John Kasich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Whoever can tell them that they’re going to improve this economy, create jobs for families, will be the winner,” said Kasich, a Republican.
The Labor Department said April 6 that employers added 120,000 jobs in March, after an increase of 227,000 in February. It was the fewest jobs added in five months. Unemployment fell to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent as discouraged workers left the labor force.
Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, indicated disappointment with the latest jobs numbers.
“Like the president, we want this to move more quickly,” Durbin said on NBC. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Kasich blamed the political divide between the parties in Washington for the failure to improve conditions more quickly.
“Government clearly has a role in the area of health care, in Medicare and in Medicaid and in Social Security,” he said. “But we need to modernize the program, and we need to do it together.”
Durbin criticized the budget passed by House Republicans, saying that the proposed changes to Medicare would force future retirees to find health care on the open market.
As Obama has done, Durbin mocked Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, for describing the House budget plan as “marvelous.”
Romney’s approach would constitute “a return to the same economic policy we had under President Bush that brought on the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Durbin said, referring to Republican President George W. Bush. “We don’t want to go back to those economic policies.”