CLEVELAND (AP) _ GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich did his best to ignore his poor showing in three states Tuesday, spending the day campaigning in Ohio and staying out of sight when primary results rolled in from Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri.
Gingrich suffered one of his worst days in the campaign, trailing far behind Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney in the three states that voted Tuesday.
The former House speaker made only minimal efforts there. He spent Tuesday at three campaign stops in Ohio, where early voting has begun in the March 6 primary.
As of midnight Eastern time, Gingrich had no public statement about the results in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
Before audiences in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, he linked Ohio’s Wright Brothers to his call for a reinvigorated U.S. space exploration program.
He ridiculed bureaucracies that he blames for inhibiting entrepreneurial spirits. He called for less government regulation and a return to what he described as an era of can-do boldness.
Gingrich chided Romney and Santorum for saying his space plans, which include a colony on the Moon, would be too costly. “This is not a country that is stingy,” he said.
Gingrich criticized his GOP rivals and President Barack Obama at each stop. His accusations were familiar: Obama promotes “a policy of weakness, appeasement and timidity,” he said. Gingrich said he would promote “security through strength.”
In Cincinnati, Gingrich criticized both Romney’s and Obama’s records on Catholics and contraceptives.
The administration recently issued a regulation requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control for their workers in their health insurance policies.
Some Catholics say the rule forces Catholic institutions to violate their religious convictions.
Romney also has criticized the Obama administration’s actions, but Gingrich says Romney has a weak record on the issue.
Gingrich said Romney insisted that Catholic hospitals give out abortion pills against their religious beliefs when he was governor of Massachusetts.
In late 2005, Romney enforced a law requiring all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide rape victims with emergency contraception.
Romney said he had no choice, but he also said rape victims deserved emergency contraception or information on where to obtain it.