Discuss as:

Even if he loses Ala., Miss., Gingrich vows: 'We're going to Tampa'

GULFPORT, Miss. – Despite calls to withdraw from the presidential race, Newt Gingrich says no matter the outcome of the primaries next week, his campaign will go on.

"We'll clearly do well enough to move on, and I think there's a fair chance we'll win” in Mississippi and Alabama, Gingrich told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. “But I just want to set this to rest once and for all, we're going to Tampa."

The former House speaker appears to be lowering expectations in the two Southern states after his press secretary told reporters that the elections on Tuesday were crucial.

Campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond had told reporters on Wednesday that Gingrich needed to win both Mississippi and Alabama to remain a credible candidate. “From Spartanburg to Texas, those all need to go for Gingrich,” Hammond said.

Gingrich barely mentioned his two leading Republican competitors – Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum – at all on the stump Friday despite running neck-and-neck with them, according to new polls.

The Speaker is continuing to campaign like it’s business as usual, focusing his criticism on President Barack Obama’s energy policies.

Friday afternoon, the Gingrich campaign stopped at an oil drilling training facility in Laurel, Miss., to jab Obama’s recent speeches on energy, while touting his own $2.50 a gallon gas price plan.

“I just wanted to point out, Mr. President, that this is how they get natural gas. This is drilling. They don't get natural gas from algae,” Gingrich said as he stood in front of an oil rig.

Speaking at Gulfport High School – his last event in Mississippi Friday – Gingrich also called for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to resign.

“I have been told that the secretary of defense has suggested that international agreements override the Congress,” Gingrich said, referring to comments that Panetta made Thursday about Syria as he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If he believes that, he should resign tonight … Leon Panetta needs to learn we do not have a United Nations secretary of defense, we have a United States secretary of defense.”

 Gingrich campaigns in Alabama Saturday.