Newt Gingrich is technically still seeking his party’s nomination, but in every other respect he appears to have already bowed out. He’s pared down his campaign operation and says the goal of his candidacy now is to affect the party platform, not just win the nomination. On Fox News Sunday, the candidate continued to put his campaign to bed, even as he refuses to drop out.
“I think you have to be realistic,” he said Sunday, and Mitt Romney is “far and away the most likely Republican nominee.”
Gingrich no longer sounds like someone who believes he can still win the presidency. Instead, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he talked openly about the next steps after losing the nomination.
First on the list, Gingrich appears to be moving towards making amends with Mitt Romney, whom he thinks most likely to be the nominee. After calling him a “Massachusetts moderate” all year, Gingrich allowed Romney the label “conservative” on Sunday. “He’s described himself as ‘severely conservative’ in his CPAC speech, I think conservative’s enough,” Gingrich said, adding “I suspect he will accept a solid, conservative platform.”
Gingrich also reiterated his commitment to defeating President Obama, no matter who the nominee is. “If I end up not being the nominee,” Gingrich said, “I’ve already talked to Chairman Reince Priebus of the Republican National Committee — I want to work this fall to help defeat Obama in any way I could. Whatever the team thinks I can do to be helpful I will do.” After that, he said, he’ll “go back to a post-political career.”
Gingrich used the interview as an opportunity to reflect back on his run. “I’m glad I did this. For me it was important as a citizen to try to do some very hard things, to try to bring new ideas and new approaches,” Gingrich said. “It was the right thing for me to do at that point both in my life and for where I thought the country was. So I have no regrets.”
When asked about the debt his campaign has accrued, Gingrich admitted that the campaign had spent almost $4.5 million more than they’d brought in. “It’s hard. No, we’re not going to go broke,” he said. Has he dipped into personal funds? “No, not — well, a little bit, but not dramatically,” he said. He blamed Florida, a big state with an expensive media market, for his campaign owing more than he had hoped. But he explained that these things are not uncommon, adding that in these situations, you talk to people, work things out, and spend the next few years raising money.
Gingrich all but called the race for Romney, saying that his own campaign was now about shaping the party and bringing ideas to the table though with little chance of winning the nomination.
“It’s clear that Gov. Romney has done a very good job of building a very substantial machine,” Gingrich said. “And that it’s — as I think Santorum is discovering in Pennsylvania right now, it’s a challenge.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.