“I emphasize going to Tampa,” Newt Gingrich announced to a crowd of his supporters on March 13 in Birmingham, Alabama, “because one of the things tonight proved, is that the elite media’s effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable, just collapsed.” Gingrich paused as the crowd cheered and whooped. On stage behind him, black, white, Asian and cowboy-hat-clad supporters clapped their hands, while some waved signs on which cartoon gas pumps flaunted a $2.50 charge. From somewhere in the audience, several men shouted “Newt! Newt! Newt!”
The elephant in the room: There’s no way this guy is going to win the Republican nomination.
Gingrich placed second behind Rick Santorum in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries, two of the Southern conservatives states upon which he had staked his campaign. He has accumulated just 135 delegates so far, compared to Rick Santorum’s 273 and Mitt Romney’s 568. Moreover, Gingrich came first in only two state primaries – South Carolina and, unsurprisingly, his home state of Georgia (which he represented in Congress for 20 years).
Even before the Republican primaries, Gingrich’s shoddy political reputation preceded him. His role in the 1995 government shutdown, his resignation as Speaker of the House amidst controversy over his ethical conduct, and his extramarital affairs made the reality of Gingrich’s shortfall seem inevitable. The question then remains, what is Gingrich still doing in the race?
In their best-case-scenario evaluations of Newt Gingrich’s standing, some political analysts believe Romney’s “too-moderate” politics and Santorum’s flimsy runner-up position could help Gingrich secure a stronger foothold in the race. His supporters believe that Gingrich will succeed in taking his campaign to Tampa, where he will make a speech that appeals to both conservatives’ minds and moderates’ wallets, and will garner enough new supporters to have a shot at the nomination. Still, the overarching opinion, rooted in statistics and perpetuated by “the elite media,” is that Newt Gingrich’s chance of winning the nomination is nonexistent. Though he appears confident with his position in the race, it would be foolish of him to truly believe he can win the nomination based on his progress to date.
Some suggest that Newt Gingrich has ulterior political motives for remaining in the race, like a vice presidential nod. However, Gingrich has attacked both Romney and Santorum in the press, curtailing any possibility for a joint ticket with either candidate. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey went so far as to state that the Gingrich campaign has become a “first-rate vendetta” against Mitt Romney, stemming from Romney’s political attack ads which contributed to Gingrich’s downfall in the Iowa caucuses. Gingrich has taken conservative votes from Santorum and published anti-Romney advertisements on his website, citing a “breathtaking scale on dishonesty underlying the Romney campaign.” By undermining the front-runners, he damages the Republican Party on the whole and lessens their chances for victory in November.
Given the impossibility of Gingrich’s winning a vice presidential nomination or being appointed to a cabinet position after the election, his only motives appear to be an extraordinary, almost surreal level of confidence, a strong penchant for the sound of his own voice, a fervent desire to publicize his political convictions, and to seek vengeance against Romney for his negative ads. The reality is, Newt Gingrich’s unwavering pursuit of the nomination has become, to put it bluntly, a joke. Like any joke that goes on for too long, it’s getting old. It’s time for Newt Gingrich to step down.