FLORENCE, S.C. — Feeling confident after a well-received debate performance Monday night, Newt Gingrich said Tuesday he would be “delighted” if Rick Santorum dropped his presidential bid and endorsed his own.

Mr. Gingrich made clear that he is not asking Mr. Santorum to leave the race, but the remark reflects the boastfulness the former speaker often displays when he feels a sudden boost in momentum.

“I would be delighted if he decided to endorse me,” he told reporters here after being asked if Mr. Santorum should drop out. “I’m respectful that Rick has every right to run as long as he feels that’s what he should do. But from the standpoint of the conservative movement, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would, in fact, virtually guarantee victory on Saturday.”

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