It appears that Newt Gingrich will suspend his campaign today. Speaking to a Republican crowd in North Carolina this morning, Gingrich said, “It’s pretty clear Governor Romney is going to be the nominee.”
Many words could be used to describe the Newt 2012 campaign. Dull is not amongst them. Last summer, it appeared his campaign was over before it started with key staff defecting once Rick Perry entered the race. But following a series of impressive debate performances in which he challenged President Obama to seven one on one Lincoln-Douglas debates, Republican voters began to give Newt a second look. After Herman Cain’s troubles began last November, Newt shot to the top of the polls.
However, as the Iowa Caucuses approached, the remaining candidates turned their attention to Newt and he did not whether the scrutiny well. Most damaging were the ads put out by PACs supporting Mitt Romney. Discontent from the Republican establishment didn’t help his cause either. Gingrich finished a distant fourth in both Iowa as the anti-Romney vote began to coalesce around Rick Santorum. Gingrich fared no better in New Hampshire with another fourth place finish.
Yet Newt found a new lease on life in the days leading up to the South Carolina primary with two impressive debate performances centering on exchanges with Juan Williams of Fox News and John King of CNN. Both exchanges earned Newt standing ovations. As it turned out, they were the only standing ovations any candidates received during the GOP debates. What also worked for Newt was releasing his tax returns while Romney hemmed and hawed. Palmetto voters awarded him with a double digit victory over Mitt Romney.
But the Romney Super PACs replicated in Florida what they had done in Iowa. Romney also outperformed Gingrich in two debates in Tampa and Jacksonville and ended up besting him in the Florida Primary by 15 points neutralizing Gingrich’s triumph in South Carolina ten days earlier. Newt never recovered. The only other contest he won was in his political base of Georgia on Super Tuesday. If Newt could not withstand the scrutiny of the Romney Super PACs then how could he possibly withstand the scrutiny of the even better funded Obama Super PACs?
Since then, with campaign money running dry, Gingrich has been going through the motions and visiting zoos around the country.
I think Newt will eventually endorse Romney but like Santorum I don’t think he’ll be in any great hurry to do it.
Alas, Newt is not the new Nixon. There will be no more Newt to kick around.