Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign Monday began morphing into less of a pursuit of the presidency and more into an effort to shape the Republican platform and to influence the discussion in the fall elections.

Campaigning in Raleigh, Gingrich said he planned to battle front-runner Mitt Romney in North Carolina’s May 8 primary and all the way to the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., but conceded the prospects of overtaking the former Massachusetts governor were not bright.

But he said Republicans still face serious choices at the convention and into the fall — whether the GOP will be a “conservative, dynamic movement” or whether it will move more to the center. Gingrich said he hoped his candidacy would help influence that debate.

“There is no reason to concede anything,” Gingrich said at a news conference. “Every vote we can get in North Carolina is a vote for a more conservative platform — every vote we can get in Delaware, or we can get in Arkansas or we can get in Texas, that is a very useful thing to be doing. If there is a major mistake or a major flaw, the race is wide open again.”

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