National Review To Newt: Drop Out And Endorse Santorum

It's the beginning of the end for Newt Gingrich, but it's unlikely he'll recognize that fact.

It was just two weeks ago that Newt Gingrich was saying publicly that Rick Santorum should drop out of the race. Of course, that was before Gingrich’s own campaign went into a seemingly tailspin while Santorum enjoyed a renaissance that was most recently capped off with a sweep of three largely inconsequential, yet momentum-boosting, races last Tuesday, Now the Editors of National Review are telling Newt Gingrich it’s time to go:

At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney-Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.

We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

The NR editorial board hasn’t been entirely sympathetic to Newt during this election cycle to begin with, their position being epitomized perhaps best by a scathing editorial back in December. Nonetheless, they are largely correct here. With money apparently drying up and Santorum having the advantage of actually being likeable, the path to anything but irrelevance for Gingrich seems hard to find. The longer he stays in the race, the longer he drags out the inevitable while simultaneously risking ticking off conservatives who have been generally supportive of him over the years.

It strikes me that Gingrich is unlikely to heed this advice regardless of where it comes from, largely because he may feel he has nothing left to lose. No matter what happens in the next few months, this is likely Gingrich’s last foray onto the public stage as a candidate and most assuredly his only and last run for the Presidency. He may believe that all he needs to do is go back to his strategy of late 2011 and things will turn around for him. He may think that once the debates start back up he’ll start wowing the crowds again. He may think that his strategy of waiting until Super Tuesday and the primaries in the south that follow will be the ticket to getting him back into the race. Or, he may just be doing all of this for sheer ego.

What seems unlikely is that Newt Gingrich is simply going to step aside and let himself be eclipsed by the likes of Rick Santorum. That just doesn’t strike me as a Gingrich-ian move. He’s more likely to stay in the race as long as he can, drawing off votes, donations, and supporters, and tossing verbal grenades into the race that cause problems for both Romney and Santorum. In other words, he’s going to be Newt Gingrich. Something that nobody should be surprised about in the end.

H/T: Rick Moran

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Barb Hartwell says:

    Gingrich is doing the Republican party a favor by staying in. The best thing for them, is to lose this year. It will do no good to have a 1 term idiot in the White-house,and it will give Republicans a chance to find a candidate that the independents can like. Let them make 2016 their year.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    @Barb Hartwell: You are correct Bob. The best thing that could happen is a Santorum nomination and a Goldwater like defeat in November along with the defeat of some tea party warriors downstream. Perhaps then the Republicans can start building a sane party. The worse thing that can happen is a Romney nomination. Even a close loss will be interpreted as a need to move even further into the crazy zone.

  3. Fiona says:

    Gingrich is not going to go gentle into that good light. It’s not in his nature. However, I doubt he’s going to win another primary, especially now that his sugar daddy isn’t willing to cough up more millions.

  4. MBunge says:

    Yes, in a contest where Rick Frickin’ Santorum can go in the space of a week from national joke and political afterthought to leading the polls in the race for the GOP nomination, Gingrich is clearly being an unreasonable egomaniac for hanging on as long as he can.

    Mike

  5. CB says:

    and pawlenty wept.

  6. @MBunge: Completely agree with your logic, and it replicates what I was saying in late March/early April of 2008 regarding Hillary Clinton. In a winner take all scenario, which a nomination process for a single member district race is, as long as there is a plausible path forward given current and projected future resource constraints, why not stay in.

    What the National Review editorial should be seen as is an attempt to signal some Republican resources (good press coverage, opinion leaders, money etc) to move away from Gingrich and towards Santorum. The National Review going forward is more likely to be more scathing to Gingrich and to never give him the benefit of the doubt, while giving a very large benefit of the doubt to Santorum in its coverage. Other party actors may be moving in that direction as well.

  7. Victor says:

    Santorum having the advantage of actually being likeable

    Wait, what?

    “Man on Dog” Santorum? Likeable? Really?

  8. Hey Norm says:

    And in the meantime…while the not-Mitt’s fight over who gets to be the ultimate not-Mitt…the Republican Establishment is busy endorsing Romney because he is so weak.
    Grover Norquist stated at CPAC that conservative leadership for the next 20 years will come not from the President, but from Congress:

    “…We’re not auditioning for someone to tell us what to do, we know what to do. We just need a president who can sign the legislation that the Republican House and Senate pass. … We don’t need someone to think. … We need someone who knows how to hold a pen…”

    And the Clown Car keeps rolling…

  9. merl says:

    @Hey Norm: That’s what Reagan and W were, just someone to hold a pen.

  10. Hey Norm says:

    I’m not as convinced as most people seem to be about the Reagan diety…but he didn’t just hold a pen.
    W? Yup. Always keep in mind…George couldn’t say no to Dick.

  11. Gary says:

    Can’t we somehow get that blathering non-intellectual slug to strap on some explosives and go and have a cluster*uck with his buddies Rove and Romney and Calista and do the world a favor.
    This idiot is the poster child for everything that is wrong with Amerika. Oh, yes, let’s find room for McConnell and that other mindless idiot in the house…….he’s such an impact, I’ll never forget him…….er, what’s his name.
    God what a bunch of lamers, it’s enough to make a real conservative cry.
    God save us from these idiots!

  12. Tillman says:

    What seems unlikely is that Newt Gingrich is simply going to step aside and let himself be eclipsed by the likes of Rick Santorum.

    Okay, let’s remove all pretense here. Would you want to be eclipsed by Rick Santorum…Rick Santorum…without a fight?

    Remember: Rick Santorum. That’d be a blow to anyone’s ego, I would think. Well, maybe not Vermin Supreme’s.

  13. Bryan D. says:

    Santorum has just newtered Gingrich, time for Newt to bow out.

  14. Nanci says:

    The new GOP has nothing at all to do with the old GOP. These people, including Gingrich, Santorum, Paul and the rest are not even Republican in their thinking. They scare me to death, especially because of their connection to Grover Norquist. who makes no bones over the power he wields over them. What is wrong with people? We talk about dumb issues when we should be talking about how this country is becoming a fascist state where big business runs the government.