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After being bit by a penguin, Gingrich says he's the underdog

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The day after Newt Gingrich was bit by a penguin at a zoo, he acknowledged he is “the underdog” and said his campaign began renting their donor list because they needed money.

"Money -- it is a very common reason why people rent things out,” Gingrich said standing inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. “We wanted the money.”

Being roughly $4.5 million in debt has caused the Gingrich campaign to rent out their list of donors, POLITICO reported Friday.

Campaign debt, Gingrich said Saturday afternoon, could factor into who former presidential candidate Rick Santorum may endorse.

Following a tour of the NASCAR museum, Gingrich said he spoke with Santorum in St. Louis, Mo. but only briefly. (This was the same day the Speaker visited the St. Louis Zoo, was nipped by a penguin and met a tiger named Callista – just like his wife, he joked to reporters.)

"I'd love to have his endorsement but he has to do what he thinks is right for his family and he has to do what … will help pay off his campaign debt,” Gingrich said. “I am not going to put any pressure on Rick but obviously I'd love to have his endorsement."

After Santorum’s exit from the GOP race, many have called on Gingrich to withdraw as well. But Gingrich says he is staying in for the Americans he meets at events who encourage him to continue running.

“I want you to know I am the last conservative standing and I am still standing and I am running hard,” Gingrich said at a Tea Party rally here. He said that remaining in the race and competing with front-runner Mitt Romney helps the Republican Party.

“I think it helps the party because it gives us the chance to outline very big solutions and to build clarity towards the fall campaign,” he said. “I think ultimately we are all going to be on the same team.”

While Gingrich calls himself “the last conservative standing,” which he advertises on his website with the slogan, he admitted Romney also is a conservative.

“Compared to Barack Obama, Romney’s a conservative,” he said. “Let’s be clear: There are no liberals in the Republican party.”