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Gingrich to tell RNC in Charlotte that it needs game change

With the Republican National Committee scheduled to meet in Charlotte later this month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has prepared a tough memo that calls on the GOP to take a hard look at its strategy and operations.

Gingrich, a former presidential candidate, writes that the party must begin “a deep, bold, thorough, and lengthy process of rethinking.''

“I was so shaken by how wrong I was in projecting a Republican win on election night that I have personally set aside time at Gingrich Productions to spend the next six months with our team methodically examining where we are and what we must do,” Gingrich wrote in a recent letter to RNC chairman Reince Priebus.

The RNC is scheduled to holds it winter meeting the Westin in Charlotte from Jan. 23-26.

Newt to finish N.C. campaign swing before ending presidential campaign

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is finishing up his North Carolina tour this week before heading back to Washington where he will announce his withdrawal from the race, campaign aides said Wednesday.

Gingrich will announce Tuesday that he is suspending his campaign, according to spokesman R.C. Hammond. He is widely expected to endorse former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Gingrich, who has transitioned in recent weeks to trying to shape the GOP platform and the shape of the party, is keeping his campaign commitments in North Carolina.

North Carolina misses the GOP primary spotlight

For North Carolina political junkies, today is a day of what-ifs. Earlier this year, as the Republican presidential primary took the slow ride through the campaign season, it appeared North Carolina voters would play a role in picking the nominee.

And today is the day the spotlight would have shifted to the Tar Heel state. With 55 delegates, North Carolina is the biggest prize between now and the end of the month when Texas votes. It seemed like Newt Gingrich would try to keep the campaign moving, but now word is he will suspend his campaign next week. And Rick Santorum ended his run earlier this month. So now Mitt Romney is cruising to the nomination.

So no bus tours or presidential rallies. But given the state's battleground status, just wait for the fall.

Morning Roundup: Rich testimony about the famous in Day 2 at Edwards trial

While John Edwards was in the last stages of his 2008 presidential campaign focusing on the poor, his pregnant mistress and political aide were exploring the wealthy upper side of Edwards’ “two Americas.”

The first two days of testimony in the criminal trial of the one-time Democratic hopeful have focused on posh hotels and resorts, big houses in exclusive neighborhoods and the super rich who can dole out thousands of dollars on short notice. Read more on the trial's second day.

In other political headlines:

--President Barack Obama is still the favorite among young voters but their enthusiasm doesn't seem to match his 2008 campaign, college students said Tuesday. Obama came to talk student loans and the millionaire former U.S. senator tried to appeal to his humble roots and his own college debt. If you missed him on Jimmy Fallon's show from UNC, watch it here.

Gingrich supports marriage amendment in video

Pro-amendment forces have lined up a high-profile endorsement: Newt Gingrich. The former U.S. House speaker and still presidential candidate released a video today in support of the proposed state constitutional amendment on the May 8 ballot, which would only grant legal recognition to opposite-sex married couples.

“Marriage between a man and a woman is at the heart of our civilization,” Gingrich says in the video. “It’s a belief that is now under attack, yet it’s at the very core of defining who we are.”

Gingrich then lassos President Obama into the controversy, tying him to “what’s happening to our basic beliefs. There’s an effort by radicals at every level to change who we are, to change what America is and to change for our children into a future that I think will be much worse.”

Newt and Callista to pay homage to Billy Graham and Richard Petty -- and of course visit the zoo

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans a heavy campaign schedule in North Carolina this week, puncturing talk that he was suspending his campaign here.

Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista for the first time here, plans to hit the Republican-rich Piedmont area of the state this week, as he campaigns for the May 8 primary. They are paying homage to several iconic Tar Heel figures -- Billy Graham and Richard Petty.  And as a big fan of zoos, Gingrich has also set a aside two hours to visit the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro.

The schedule suggests that Gingrich is doubling down on North Carolina after five GOP primaries are held on Tuesday.

1335192140 Newt and Callista to pay homage to Billy Graham and Richard Petty -- and of course visit the zoo The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Fetzer endorses Romney

Tom Fetzer, who had been state chairman of Newt Gingrich's campaign, has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“Washington has a spending problem and President Obama is making it worse,” said Fetzer, a former Raleigh mayor and former state GOP chairman. “Mitt Romney has proposed bold solutions to fix our spending crisis. He comes from the private sector and knows that we can't spend more than we take in.''

Newt criticizes Romney for floating the idea of ending second home mortgage deduction

With Mitt Romney campaigning in North Carolina, a state filled with vacation homes, his rival Newt Gingrich criticized a proposal to limit tax deductions on income level for second homes.

“Governor Romney's proposal to limit certain tax deductions based on income, income, including the deduction for mortgage interest on second homes, is a surrender to the class warfare rhetoric of the left,” Gingrich said in a statement released from Pennsylvania where he is campaigning.

“Conservatives believe in the classical American definition of fairness – that every American be treated equally under the law,” Gingrich said.

The Romney campaign aides said Romney was only throwing out ideas when he mentioned ending the mortgage interest deduction when talking to supporters at Palm Beach Florida fundraiser Sunday night.

Romney and Gingrich face each  other in the May 8 Republican primary.

Gingrich staffer blocks student reporter from asking Fox News question

The Daily Tar Heel reports that a staffer for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich blocked a reporter from asking a questions about Roger Ailes. The reporter for UNC-Chapel Hill's independent, student run daily paper said he was also briefly detained by Gingrich's Secret Service detail. From DTH reporter Memet Walker:

At a Tea Party rally in Greensboro Saturday, I had scheduled a private interview with the presidential candidate through his staff. His aid gave no preconditions; no topics were off limits.

That’s why I was so surprised when, before I had finished asking my first question, that same aid cut the interview short and prompted Secret Service to grab and briefly detain me as the former speaker was led away.

Morning Roundup: North Carolina's first super PAC raises questions

One of the most passionately fought campaigns of this year’s primary season is the slugfest between former federal prosecutor George Holding and Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble, who are vying for a seat in Congress.

The race has produced North Carolina's first super PAC. It ranks No. 9 as the most active super PAC playing in a congressional race in the nation. And like other super PACs in this new world, how The American Foundations Committee is permitted to operate is somewhat controversial and sometimes unclear. Click here to read more, see a list of donors and get a primer on super PAC rules.

To get your political fill, here are more big headlines from this weekend:

--Newt Gingrich tries to keep GOP race alive. In stumping across the state, Gingrich mainly ignored Romney, but stepped up his criticism of Obama, describing him as "a Chicago-machine politician dedicated to Saul Alinsky’s radicalism." Here's a dispatch from his statewide tour, including stops at a tea party rally in Greensboro and Raleigh. He also visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

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