As of Tuesday, May 1, Newt is no longer a GOP presidential candidate (in case you didn't know already).
At long last, the casino cash-fueled candidacy of Newt Gingrich will officially end, and with it his quixotic vision of emerging victorious from the panicked chaos of a brokered Republican convention. On Wednesday two sources close to the disgraced former speaker of the House said he will formally withdraw from the race on May 1, clearing a wide-open path for Mr. Inevitable, Mitt Romney.
Nearly 12 months ago Gingrich announced his intention to return to electoral politics, which happened to be around the same time his latest book, A Nation Like No Other hit the shelves. Not surprisingly, the announcement prompted skepticism and ridicule from across the spectrum. Yet as the race progressed and patently silly candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain took turns playing frontrunner, it seemed plausible that a washed-up beltway insider 15 years past his political prime could catapult to the party nomination. In late January he finished first in South Carolina and an impressive second in Florida in the wake of strong debate performances. For a few fleeting weeks, it looked like the old curmudgeon might actually pull it off.
But it was not to be. There will be no President Gingrich; no moon colony by 2016; no army of child-janitors; no First Lady Callista; no more delusions of grandeur. In the end, whatever nostalgia GOP primary voters had for the Republican Revolution of 1994 was not enough to push Gingrich over the top, or anywhere near it for that matter. Gingrich could only manage two primary victories, both in the Deep South, including his home state of Georgia. His status as a thirty-year Washington insider, his consulting work for Republican whipping posts Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and his previous advocacy of an individual health insurance mandate all proved to be significant obstacles to a Newt nomination.
Newt Gingrich the candidate is no more, but Newt Gingrich the consultant, lobbyist, historian, celebrity speaker, author, and political mercenary will remain and, amazingly, continue to coast on his reputation. That reputation, though sullied and broken, has nonetheless has garnered him a degree of celebrity and the accompanying riches after he endured a self-induced political implosion of spectacular proportions, one that would ruin him beyond repair in any normal country. His popularity, however brief, shows a disturbingly high level of tolerance among many voters for transparent political and personal hedonism, not to mention a shockingly short memory. While Gingrich was wrong about the plausibility of his candidacy, he was right about one thing: America really is a nation like no other.