Can Newt Gingrich keep his sputtering campaign alive?
Until this week, Newt Gingrich was running a distant third in the GOP presidential nominating race. With Rick Santorum out, Gingrich now runs a very distant second behind Mitt Romney. What reason does he have to stay in the fight?
You can almost hear the political world asking, â€śNewt who?â€ť
Although heâ€™s still formally a candidate for the GOPâ€™s 2012 nomination, he describes Mitt Romney as "far and away the most likely" GOP nominee â€“ a fact made all-but-certain by Rick Santorumâ€™s dropping out this week. Mr. Santorum had been Romneyâ€™s last remaining serious challenger.
With $4.5 million in debt, the Gingrich campaign organization has been operating on a shoestring as his principal financial angel, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, began moving toward the Romney campaign.
â€śIt appears as though heâ€™s at the end of his line,â€ť Adelson said recently. â€śBecause, I mean, mathematically, he canâ€™t get anywhere near the numbers, and itâ€™s unlikely to be a brokered convention.â€ť
Gingrich has put his donor lists on the market, CBS News reports, â€śa sign that the cash-strapped campaign has had to put its bread-and-butter on the line to try to pay its bills.â€ť The going rate: $50 per 1,000 small-donor names, and $135 per 1,000 larger donor names.
Gingrich still has things to do. He spoke to the National Rifle Association convention Friday. As usual, he waxed magniloquently.
â€śDesperate for attention and trying to get back into a conversation that has passed him by, the still-technically-running candidate said he will submit a treaty to the United Nations that would make the right to bear arms a universal human right,â€ť Politicoâ€™s James Hohmann reported from the convention.
â€śFar fewer women would be raped. Far fewer children would be killedâ€¦and far fewer dictators would survive if people had the right to bear arms everywhere on the planet,â€ť Gingrich said, earning a standing ovation from a crowd of thousands. â€śWe should say the second amendment is an amendment for all mankind.â€ť
Although heâ€™s been a political survivor, becoming influential and wealthy since he left Congress under a cloud, Gingrich appeared to burn at least one bridge recently when he declared that CNN was â€śless biasedâ€ť than Fox News.
â€śWe are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and weâ€™re more likely to get distortion out of FOX,â€ť he said this week. â€śThatâ€™s just a fact.â€ť
To which Fox News chief Roger Ailes replied that Gingrich was just â€śtrying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isnâ€™t going to get to come back to Fox News.â€ťÂ
Gingrich picked up the endorsement of a state lawmaker or two. But as Matthew Payne of the Wall Street Journal points out, heâ€™d need a lot more than that to turn a miracle.
â€śAccording to RNC rule No. 40(b), to be considered on the convention's first ballot a candidate needs the plurality of delegates from at least five states. So far the former speaker has won only two,â€ť Mr. Payne explains. â€śEven if Mr. Gingrich were somehow to deny Mitt Romney of the 1,114 delegates required to win the nomination, he still needs to win three more states. If he doesn't, many of his pledged delegates will be released to vote for Mr. Romney on the first ballot â€“ likely putting the former Massachusetts governor over the 1,114-delegate threshold anyway.â€ť
So at this point, it seems, Gingrich is working mainly to keep his reputation as a political player â€“ perhaps to be granted a prime-time speaking spot in Tampa.