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Gingrich starts to shift tone on Romney as nominee

FREDERICK, Md. -- Newt Gingrich unveiled a new message to Mitt Romney Monday morning if the former Massachusetts governor does become the Republican nominee: pick a conservative platform.

But speaking on the eve of three primaries that could potentially seal the Republican nomination in Romney’s favor, Gingrich vowed to only exit the race if a candidate gets the required delegates.

“I will be going to Tampa,” he insisted again. But Gingrich's “going to Tampa” line is starting to sound like actually traveling there rather than continuing a campaign there.

“Callista and I will both be going to Tampa, because we are going to fight for a conservative platform,” Gingrich continued. “He [Romney] has to win 1,144 uncontested delegates. At that point, the question is going to become, if he wants our support in the general election, let’s talk about the platform and it better be a solid, 21st century conservative platform based on sound principles that we can stick to.”

Gingrich, speaking to a couple hundred people at a Ford dealership here in Western Maryland, noted that he took the recent Etch-A-Sketch comments from Romney’s communication director “very seriously” and worried that “clever” consultants would hinder a platform conducive to more conservative Republicans.

The former House Speaker also argues the former governor is being awarded too many delegates from Florida, Arizona, and Idaho because the states, he argues, are supposed to be proportional by RNC rules.

Campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond, tells NBC News that the campaign has sent letters to those state’s Republican Parties to correct the “errors.” But an aggrieved Florida voter has to file a challenge with the RNC and have the RNC’s ruling overturn that Florida is winner-take-all.

These new comments from the Speaker come as his campaign is trying to remain in the political conversation, as he struggles both financially and in recent elections. He has been focusing much more on attacking President Obama lately, as Gingrich says he does better doing that than focusing on his Republican opponents. While he did touch on Romney today, Gingrich failed to mention Rick Santorum, who also is ahead of him in the delegate count.

One topic Gingrich loves to talk about -- the court system in America, came up Monday morning as well. Perhaps in an appeal to the Tea Party attendees in the audience with “Don’t tread on me” flags, the Speaker launched a new attack on Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg for her comments on the U.S. constitution.

“When a Supreme Court justice said last year that the Constitution wasn't where she would look in order to get a constitution for the future -- she suggested the South African constitution is much better-- I wondered why she was serving on the United States Supreme Court,” he said.

Ginsburg, in that interview on Egyptian TV, said, “I would not look to the U.S. constitution if I were drafting a constitution in 2012.” She instead said Egypt should look to more recent writings like in South Africa, Europe, and Canada.

“I can’t speak about what the Egyptian experience should be, because I’m operating under a rather old Constitution,” she said. “The United States, in comparison to Egypt, is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written Constitution still enforced in the world.”

She noted that the founders were “very wise” men, but that the Constitutional convention was not representative. They “were lacking one thing,” she said, that “there were no women as part of the Constitutional convention.” And she noted that the original U.S. Constitution preserved slavery.

But she also extoled the virtues of the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment, separation of powers (including judicial independence), checks and balances, freedom, and liberty.

“And it’s a Constitution that starts out with three wonderful words, ‘We, the People,’” she said. “And so that’s the molding idea – that the government’s formed with the consent of the people and it should serve the interests of … all of the people not just some of them.”

Gingrich holds one more event in Maryland this afternoon but has no public events scheduled for Tuesday when voters in Maryland, Washington, DC and Wisconsin vote.