Newt Gingrich is angry.
With all eyes on Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum for Super Tuesday, Gingrich will almost certainly win Georgia on Tuesday, but few expect him to win much else. So coming out of today’s voting, Newt will face serious questions about whether he should, or can even afford to stay in the race. But could he remain in just to cause trouble for Romney?
In an interview Monday on CNN, for example, Newt continued to question Romney’s basic honesty — a bold move against the man who most people assume will be his party’s nominee.
“I think the challenge has been that Governor Romney has had a huge amount of money, most of it from Wall Street, a great deal from companies that were bailed out by the taxpayer,” Gingrich said. “But he’s used that money very effectively, first against me and negative ads, and then he pivoted and used it in negative ads against Santorum. But he can’t close the deal. And he can’t close the deal in part because people inherently don’t trust what he’s saying, and think that he isn’t always very candid with them, and sometimes frankly isn’t straight.”
And Newt, who has been dependent on the super-Pac support of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, also further added that it’s Romney who might have a resource problem: “It’s not at all clear to me right now that Romney can get above a certain ceiling. And the question is whether or not ultimately his money starts to run out. It’s very clear in any kind of relatively evenly-financed campaign Romney would not win.”
Headed into Super Tuesday, Newt is only the favorite to win a single contest, namely the primary in his old home state of Georgia. And indeed, he is the odds-on favorite to win the state where he built his political career, and probably by a good margin, as the recent polls have shown:
But beyond that, he is not rating very well in other Super Tuesday states, and could potentially be spoiling things for Rick Santorum by splitting the anti-Romney conservative vote. For example, in the biggest contest of Super Tuesday, the Ohio primary, he barely rates in the polls at all:
So how did things get this way?
Back in December, when he was flying high in the polls both nationally and in the key early state of Iowa, Gingrich made the bold statement: “I’m going to be the nominee.”
But following a a barrage of attacks from Romney and his supporting super PAC, he sunk down the polls, and was ultimately eclipsed in Iowa, and later nationally, by Rick Santorum. Things picked up when two strong debate performances (and last-minutes attacks by his second ex-wife) brought him to a landslide victory in South Carolina. But then he just crashed out again in Florida, thanks again to waves of attack ads by the pro-Romney super PAC and other Mitt allies, plus a negative public reaction to his calls for a base on the Moon.
Then, the night he came in third place in the Nevada caucuses, he held an unusual press conference in which he attacked Romney, mocked the media’s coverage of the race, and declared that he was still in the race and would go all way to the convention in Tampa. Think of it as kind of like Nixon’s famous “last press conference” in 1962, except Newt was explicitly stating that you do still have him to kick around.
Besides continuing to savage Romney’s credibility, he has also staked his long shot campaign on some good old fashioned gas price fantasies. His new favorite issue: promising that if elected, he would help America’s get gasoline prices down to $2.50. And the reason for the promise — it’s to oppose the liberals who want prices to be up.
As he said at one event: “Let me start from a simple premise that Oklahomans will understand: you cannot put a gun rack in a Volt.”
He also declared at another event a week and a half ago: “If you would like to have a national American energy policy, never again bow to a Saudi king and pay $2.50 a gallon, Newt Gingrich will be your candidate. If you want $10 a gallon gasoline, an anti-energy secretary, and in weakness requiring us to depend on foreigners for our energy, Barack Obama should be your candidate.”
Newt did manage to take one unconventional stance for a conservative, though, opening the door to a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. But even here, he took the pessimistic rationale for it — giving up on the country as hopeless, in reaction to the protests over the accidental burning of Qurans by U.S. military personnel at Bargram air base.
“And there are some problems where you have to say, ‘You know, you are going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life’ … because you clearly don’t want to learn from me how to be unmiserable. And that is what you are going to see happen.”