How many conservative opinion leaders are going to call on Newt Gingrich to clear the way for Santorum after his pair of second-place finishes in the Deep South? Here’s who is already weighing in:
“Newt has given it a great run but Rick Santorum has earned a mano a mano shot at Mitt Romney,” says conservative activist Keith Appell.
“Having lost two southern states tonight – ostensibly the geographic bloc that should be his base – the time has come for Gingrich to exit the race,” writes Matt Lewis. “He should be proud of the campaign he has run. But if he wants to remain proud of his efforts, it’s important to go out in a classy manner.”
Gingrich and his aides continue to insist they’re not going anywhere, but how much long can their adventure realistically go on? The media is now in a place where even semi-obscure conservatives will get attention for saying Gingrich should drop out.
In fact, the media is already playing a role by no longer playing a role.
“After Tuesday’s primary, reporters from the Washington Post and New York Times were leaving the Gingrich campaign; it’s not clear how regularly the papers will cover Gingrich from now on,” The Washington Examiner’s Byron York reports from Birmingham. “That’s a sign of establishment rejection that Gingrich would relish — he’s scored a lot of political points attacking the media — but the real worry is that the Gingrich campaign might slowly fade from press coverage. And then — far more ominously — those 175,000 donors might begin to lose their enthusiasm, along with their resolve to give again.”
But maybe Newt is sticking around for another reason: to simply piss off Romney.
Patricia Murphy notes Newt Gingrich tipped his hand last night at “his campaign’s real strategy, which is no longer to win to nomination outright but to make Mitt Romney lose by denying him the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination before the Republican convention in August.”
“Gingrich has grown increasingly bitter toward Romney throughout the campaign, as the former Massachusetts governor has unloaded a barrage of attacks against the former speaker and, Gingrich believes, hurt his showings at the polls in the process.”
National Journal quotes Gingrich: “Governor Romney will get at most one out of every three delegates. Once again he will fall dramatically short … I think that the odds against his being able to get 1,144 delegates is very, very high. I think he is more likely to be a front-runner who ends up not finishing the race.”