Romney’s Inevitable And Gingrich Don’t Care

Romney continues to roll up decisive victories while Gingrich gets increasingly bitter and nasty.


Mitt Romney’s 25 point victory in the Nevada caucuses does little to change the delegate count but a lot to reinforce the notion that he’s the inevitable Republican nominee.

Romney won 47.6% of the vote, to Newt Gingrich’s 22.7%, Ron Paul’s 18.6%, and Rick Santorum’s 11.1%. It becomes increasingly hard to justify considering Santorum a legitimate candidate, as has strong showing in Iowa looks more and more like an anomaly. And, frankly, few ever took Paul seriously; he’s a novelty candidate who seems satisfied to finish third in every state.

Naturally, Romney is trying to quickly get out of the mudslinging of a bitter primary fight and switch to talking about his fall opponent, President Obama.

Addressing cheering supporters in Las Vegas, Romney largely ignored his opponents and focused on President Obama’s handling of the economy. “America needs a president who can fix the economy because he understands the economy,” he said. “I do and I will. This president began his presidency by apologizing for America. He should now be apologizing to America.”

Gingrich and company, however, don’t seem so interested in that.

As Romney celebrated his third victory in five contests, his rivals vowed to continue fighting. Gingrich spoke to reporters, forgoing the traditional post-election rally. “We will continue the campaign all the way to Tampa,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to withdraw.” Then, in an extraordinary performance, Gingrich spent much of the rest of his news conference denouncing Romney in harsh and personal terms, signaling a rough ride ahead for the party.

Santorum, meanwhile, said Saturday night that he would make the strongest nominee against Obama. “This race is a long, long way from being over,” he told CNN, adding, “Eventually this race will come to us.”

My strong guess is that Santorum will quite fairly soon. He’s a party man and doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to mount a national campaign now that the states are coming up quickly and in bunches. He failed to capitalize on his Iowa momentum and there’s no obvious way for him to regain it. Gingrich, meanwhile, continues to pin his hopes on getting down to a two-man race and rebounding in his native South.

But the calendar provides those chasing Romney with few opportunities for victory in coming weeks. Gingrich and Santorum each would like to take on Romney without the other draining off conservative votes, but neither has shown any interest in bowing to the other. Paul demonstrated again in Nevada that he can do well in caucus states with limited turnout but has yet to show real strength in a big state.

The first weeks of the Republican race have played out at the pace of a sprint. But the primary-caucus calendar slows to a walk in February, before resuming with a flurry of contests March 6, this year’s Super Tuesday.

Romney is favored in Colorado on Tuesday, whereas Minnesota is less predictable. Maine caucuses began Saturday but will not be completed for a week. Both Arizona and Michigan are regarded as Romney territory at this point. Gingrich’s first real opportunities won’t arrive until Super Tuesday.

Really, though, Gingrich seems more motivated by ego and pique than the delegate count.

After a likely second-place finish in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, former House speaker Newt Gingrich sought to dispel the idea that he might drop out of the Republican presidential nomination any time soon, promising a hotel ballroom filled with reporters that he will fight on to the convention in the summer.

Gingrich launched into one of his sharpest attacks ever against GOP presidential candidates front-runner Mitt Romney, signaling that he will continue to hammer on his leading opponent as the nomination moves on to Colorado, Minnesota and beyond — “in every state in the country,” he said. He called Romney “dishonest” and a “Massachusetts moderate,” proclaiming that Republicans eventually will turn against a candidate who, he said, has supported abortion rights, gun control and higher taxes — and then not told the truth about it.

“If you can’t tell the truth as a candidate for president, how can the country possibly expect you to lead as president?” Gingrich said, speaking specifically of Romney’s performance in the most recent debate, in Jacksonville on Jan. 26. “I frankly was stunned. I make no bones about it.”

Gingrich said his plan is to amass about as many convention delegates as Romney by the time Texas votes on April 3. “By that point,” he said, “we can win the nomination.”

By that point, the contempt and white hot hate that most people who know Gingrich well feel will be shared by a majority of Republicans. But this is Gingrich’s last stand and he appears willing to go down shooting.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    Romney won 47.6% of the vote, to Newt Gingrich’s 22.7%, Ron Paul’s 18.6%, and Rick Santorum’s 11.1%.

    All votes aren’t in yet, Clark County has only reported half of their votes. (Which is good for Romney, because failing to reach 50% in a state where he four years ago won 51.1%, that wouldn’t be good.)

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    Who didn’t expect Romney to win in Nevada? And yes it increases the sense of his inevitability but it’s clear Gingrich has appeal to a dissafected segment of the Republican party who simply aren’t very keen on Romney and regard him (not without some reason) as a faker. Therefore Newt’s supposition he could enjoy a rebound particularly in the south is not without foundation. Really Gingrich has very little to lose by continuing the fight up to the super Tuesday primaries. Obviously JJ wants him to be a good boy and to go quietly into the night because he’s concerned about the unity of the GOP hence the operatic language about Gingrich hate which is almost certainly an exaggeration of how a lot of the GOP base feel about Gingrich although it may be true of Inside the Beltway apparachicks

  3. I want them both to disclose their dopamine gene profile ;-). I suspect Romney would score quite well.

  4. PJ says:

    Why should Gingrich quit after what Romney did in Iowa and Florida?
    If the roles were reversed and Gingrich had, through his SuperPAC, blanketed Iowa and Florida with negative Romney ads, should Romney then have quit?

    Lots of arguments about Gingrich bringing Romney down, but isn’t that exactly what Romney did to Gingrich? Romney did to Gingrich what he had to do to stop him, which most likely hurt Gingrich among both Republicans and all voters, but shouldn’t Gingrich then be allowed to do the same to Romney?

    And, yes, Romney is more electable than Gingrich in the general election, but shouldn’t Republicans pick their nominee?

  5. BTW, Honey Badger reference?

  6. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Hell, at this point the “Black Knight” skit from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” is the more apropos reference.

  7. Fiona says:

    I watched Gingrich’s little performance last night and the guy came off as both bitter and delusional. I don’t want him to withdraw because I think he can do some damage to the party and to Romney, but he becomes increasingly pathetic as the race wears on.

    Plus, there’s some irony in seeing him brought down by the consequences of a Supreme Court decision he supported and then cry foul. Surely, if Gingrich had the same kind of Super Pac money Romney has, he’d be engaging in the same kind of scorched earth tactics to bring Romney down. Poor widdle Newtie.

  8. [Paul]’s a novelty candidate who seems satisfied to finish third in every state.

    Because he’s not running to win the nomination, he’s running to advance a set of ideas. Even if Romney does become the nominee, decisions need to be made on what he’s going to do in office, which is going to largely be determined by what voters are pressuring Congress to do. If Paul can convince more people to stop supporting the neocon agenda, we’d be far better off.

    If nothing else, we won’t end up with a situation where the 2012 election is essentially a referendum of whether or not to go to war with Iran, which seems to be where we’re heading.

    This is typical of the way libertarian leaning voters are treated by the Republican party. We’re expected to happily eat whatever turd sandwhich the party has cooked up this year, while our candidates are openly mocked, and we’re not even allowed to try and convince people to agree with our policies.

    And then they want to act suprised when libertarian voters either stay home or vote third party on election day.

  9. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “This is typical of the way libertarian leaning voters are treated by the Republican party. We’re expected to happily eat whatever turd sandwhich the party has cooked up this year, while our candidates are openly mocked”

    I’ve seen your candidates. Mocking is the least they deserve. But since tar and feathers have gone out of fashion, then I’ll just keep making fun of libertarian politicians who insist that poor people should die when they get sick because the great market fairy in the sky will be unhappy if we decide to act like a civilization.

  10. Tano says:

    He [Santorum] failed to capitalize on his Iowa momentum and there’s no obvious way for him to regain it.

    Well, there actually is an obvious way for him to vault into contender-status, and that prospect is, I am sure, what is keeping him in the race. All that needs to happen is the complete implosion or actual withdrawal of Newt Gingrich from the race. Santorum hopes to be the last even remotely plausible non-Romney, “real conservative” left in the race. If he can assume that mantle before all the conservatives have given up and turned reluctantly to Romney, then exciting things could possibly happen for him.

  11. @Stormy Dragon:

    If Paul can convince more people to stop supporting the neocon agenda, we’d be far better off.

    I agree with this!

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    Interestingly turnout was dramatically down from the 44,000 figure in 08. The Republican party haven’t released the figure (which in itself is significant) but there’s local speculation it could be as much as 20% off. Thus we’d see the same pattern of low Republican turnout in all the primaries so far other than SC (which Newt won) which is maybe a pointer to the general level of Republican enthusiasm or specific dissatisfaction with Romney.

  13. Kylopod says:

    I think it’s possible Gingrich will win more states, particularly in the South. But I have trouble seeing how he has any plausible path to the nomination. Let’s say he scores big wins in all the states that are presumed to play to his strengths. How many delegates will that get him in all? Checking Wikipedia’s list of the primary calendar, it doesn’t look like remotely enough, though I’ll leave it to others to do the exact calculations. (Remember, many of the potential Gingrich states, such as Texas or Georgia or Tennessee, are not winner-take-all.) He’d have to expand beyond his base, something it’s hard for me to imagine him doing.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Newt should stay in and bring the fight to Romney again and again.

    Because Newt can win the nomination and become our next president.

    (snicker.)

  15. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Sounds like the Nevada GOP created quite the clusterfeck:

    A Republican caucus event timed to accommodate observant Jews who wouldn’t break Sabbath devolved into a fracas about religion and politics and made for a feisty conclusion to Nevada’s presidential nominating process.

    Hundreds of people who crowded into the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin witnessed repeated clashes between local Republican party officials and would-be caucus-goers who resented being required to affirm their religious beliefs before being allowed to participate.

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    repeated clashes between local Republican party officials and would-be caucus-goers who resented being required to affirm their religious beliefs before being allowed to participate.

    Imagine what Mel Brooks could do with this….lol

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “If you can’t tell the truth as a candidate for president, how can the country possibly expect you to lead as president?” Gingrich said,

    Did Newt actually say this with a straight face? Really??? (double triple snicker… followed by loud guffaws)

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Wow. Just wow. And James is going to vote for one of these guys? James, they won’t even let you thru the door.

  19. Modulo Myself says:

    Newt wouldn’t be doing this if he thought Romney would win against Obama. This is all about the day after election and the huge speaking and booking fees that will roll in as he tells conservatives how they could have won.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I disagree: it’s about petulance and rage and a sense of entitlement, which is why Newt is such a perfect symbol for the GOP.

  21. Buffalo Rude says:

    Just imagine Gringrich in Revolutionary period garb leading a protest march, bull horn in hand, in front of the RNC in Tampa with a pack of Tea Partiers and other disaffected right wingers marching/rolling-in-Hooverarounds behind him. C’mon Newt, make it happen.

  22. anjin-san says:

    This is all about the day after election and the huge speaking and booking fees

    I’m inclined to agree. Romney loses to Obama, and Newt is positioned for four years playing the keeper of the conservative flame. Lot’s of airtime on Fox, and lucrative rounds of the rubber chicken circuit. The rubes will line for the fleecing.

    Every morning, Newt will look at himself in the mirror, say “I’m not a conservative, but I play one on TV”, think of his latest bank statement, and have a really good laugh.

  23. Buffalo Rude says:

    @michael reynolds: I think Modulo Myself is on to something. But yeah, don’t forget the petulance, rage and entitlement.

  24. DRS says:

    Isn’t this about the 4th or 5th time there’s been a declaration that no kidding, this is it, Romney’s the One, where’s his crown already?, get these other guys off stage, stick a fork in them they’re done? Think it will work eventually?

  25. Arnonerik says:

    It is amusing to read the comments because you can clearly see the bias of the Romneybots who see Newt through jaundiced critical eyes but are unable to see the negative scorched earth campaign that Mitt has run. Romney is the wrong man to try and defeat Obama.

  26. anjin-san says:

    petulance, rage and entitlement

    Think about Newt as a pudgy, awkward, unpopular kid. Then young Romney – good looking, self-assured, gets the girl – everything coming easy to him.

    Newt must have hated that kind of kid with a passion. Might explain where the rage is coming from.

  27. Eric Florack says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Who didn’t expect Romney to win in Nevada? And yes it increases the sense of his inevitability but it’s clear Gingrich has appeal to a dissafected segment of the Republican party who simply aren’t very keen on Romney and regard him (not without some reason) as a faker. Therefore Newt’s supposition he could enjoy a rebound particularly in the south is not without foundation

    Quite so.
    And here we go again. In a choice between liberal liberal light, guess which one gets the indie vote? Meanwhile the GOP base sits on its hands, ala McCain and Dole. We know where that leads, even if the GOP establishment does not.

    This was the GOP’s last chance. I wonder if they knew it. I tend to doubt it.

  28. Brummagem Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I disagree: it’s about petulance and rage and a sense of entitlement, which is why Newt is such a perfect symbol for the GOP.

    I’m inclined to agree with Modulo here. Newt knows he can’t win but he’ll get a fair number of delegates and play the king over the water at the convention and then if Romney loses talk about what might of been to audiences who lap up this claptrap….look at Palin and she isn’t a fraction as substantive as the Newtster….although she is more comely I’ll admit.

  29. michael reynolds says:

    See, I think Newt actually believes himself to be a Man of Destiny. I don’t think that’s an act, I think he sees himself standing somewhere between Lincoln and Reagan. And he believes this is almost self-evident, or should be, so all opposition is illegitimate. By what right does anyone challenge Himself?

    But whether you believe his motivation is money, or believe he’s acting out of rage, I think we can all come together around the simple proposition that Newt Gingrich is a repulsive human being.

    You know, fundamentally.

  30. Modulo Myself says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think it’s like quantum physics, but for hacks. Newt’s avarice and Newt’s conviction are superimposed at the same time and place. Newt, as a deterministic phenomenon, has absolutely zero ability to know which is operating at any time. He’s just observed, perpetually, and either one or the other pops out.

    Over the period of two decades, it’s clear that he’s a statistical outlier who has survived for so long with the right particle popping into existence at the most fortuitous time. Probabilistically speaking, roughly eighteen point five years ago he should have ended up a thrice-divorced unemployed internet commenter living in an unheated basement.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    For once, Maureen Dowd’s cattiness has found a useful outlet: read her latest on Callista and Newt and The Good Wife Stare. One line sent me chortling: “The Republican party is chasing Newt around the country with a butterfly net.”

    I think Adelson is using Newt to push Romney further towards a pro-Likud position. Move in the direction I want and I’ll drop Newt, otherwise I’ll continue supporting Newt as Nuisance. (I can’t believe Adelson believes that Newt has a realistic chance at the nomination.)

  32. Kylopod says:

    >Meanwhile the GOP base sits on its hands, ala McCain and Dole.

    The last time you argued this point, you got soundly refuted by the very data you invoked, the exit polls. (Short explanation: I pointed out that the 2004 electorate included the exact same percentage of self-identifying conservatives as 2008. You replied that Bush wasn’t a real conservative either, only Reagan was. I then showed you exit polls from 1980 showing that the electorate had even fewer self-identifying conservatives! At that point, you disappeared from the thread.) Why do you continue to insist on points you know were debunked when they were last brought up?

  33. anjin-san says:

    This was the GOP’s last chance. I wonder if they knew it. I tend to doubt it.

    You have to wonder if guys like bithead are aware that they have become another flavor of pre-Clinton Democrats.

    They live for glorious defeats, followed by a long post-defeat interlude telling themselves and anyone who will listen how right they were and how it could have all been different, if only the misguides masses understood the righteousness of their cause and acknowledged the clarity of their vision.

  34. Eric Florack says:

    The last time you argued this point, you got soundly refuted by the very data you invoked, the exit polls.

    You might actually try refuting points that you claim were already refuted.
    Here’s a clue for you; you haven’t done so yet. Not even close.

    Doesn’t it bother you, even a little bit, that the man now trying to claim the mantle of Reagan, didn’t support him but rather voted for Paul Tsongas? Doesn’t it bother you that the guy that is no telling us that he’s going to revoke Obama care, is the one who wrote it for the most part?

    No, I don’t suppose it does.

    When Obama wins his second term over this moron, Romney, come back and talk to me about it. Because of that point this country will be all over but the burial.

  35. anjin-san says:

    bit – why don’t you name the “true conservative” that you want to lead us? Many have asked, but you just won’t name names. Is it Newt? You do realize that he is not a conservative, but an opportunist – don’t you?

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    Bithead is hard at work on reanimating Reagan, creating. . . (wait for it) . . . Ron Zombie.

    The only stumbling block is figuring how to get enough fresh, human brain to feed Ron Zombie.

  37. anjin-san says:

    Bithead is hard at work on reanimating Reagan

    And doing it with no clue that the genial, pragmatic Reagan would almost certainly despise modern conservatives…

  38. Kylopod says:

    >You might actually try refuting points that you claim were already refuted.

    Then explain to me how you can continue to claim that supposedly moderate GOP candidates like McCain and Bush inspire lower conservative turnout than “real conservatives” like Reagan when the very data you cited, the exit polls, showed the opposite.

    >Doesn’t it bother you, even a little bit, that the man now trying to claim the mantle of Reagan, didn’t support him but rather voted for Paul Tsongas?

    It actually puts him in good company with the man who voted for FDR four times.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    Romney is the wrong man to try and defeat Obama.

    Oh indeed! Especially with lines like these…

    “America needs a president who can fix the economy because he understands the economy,” he said. “I do and I will.

    Yes, he understand the economy by shipping jobs overseas to make a quick buck…

    This president began his presidency by apologizing for America.

    Ahh, how the obvious lies roll of Mitt’s tongue…he’s so cute when he’s trying to play a conservative…

    I think we can all come together around the simple proposition that Newt Gingrich is a repulsive human being.

    How could anyone argue otherwise?

    Meawhile, for all of Eric’s delusions, let’s hope that more Republicans are like him (yes, please stay home!) rather than like James (how do you vote for this guy without holding your nose?)…that will do wonders for Romney’s chances in November…

  40. anjin-san says:

    When Obama wins his second term over this moron, Romney, come back and talk to me about it. Because of that point this country will be all over but the burial.

    Bin Laden dead, and General Motors alive. America is indeed a nation on the brink 🙂

  41. Dazedandconfused says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If Adelson is wanting something from Mitt, I suspect Mitt’s people will be on the phone to him this week and he will get a chance to explain that. They are going to try to cut off Newt’s super-pac Sugar Daddy, I reckon.

    About Callista and Newt….there was a little exchange a few weeks ago caught on CPAN cameras. She was chewing him out for sneezing. That broad is not just being dragged along, nosireebob. She’s “into it” -big time. That post-modern Jackie K. doo says something.

  42. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Eric Florack:

    When Obama wins his second term over this moron, Romney, come back and talk to me about it. Because of that point this country will be all over but the burial.

    Whilst I agree with you that this is the likely outcome the hard truth it’s the likely outcome witn Gingrich also. Having said that Newt is the candidate that best represents where the heart of the GOP is at the moment and I actually think he’d give a better account of himself in the campaign than Romney is going to do and it would be more fun if more of a roller coaster ride. Whatever the explanation I simply see Newt having more capacity to generate enthusiasm amongst conservatives than Romney who is already holed below the water line and Obama hasn’t run out his guns yet. This is something the suits like JJ are missing in all this. I’m a suit so I understand the mindset fairly well.

    “The Republican party is chasing Newt around the country with a butterfly net.”

    This btw is a knock out line Grumpy.

  43. @Arnonerik:

    Quite the opposite. “Romneybots” are missing. That is, as I have noted, amazing for a presidential campaign.

    Find someone who is actually pro-Romney, rather than just accepting him as least bad, in this thread!

  44. @michael reynolds:

    I agree. What’s more, Gingrich believes rules apply to other people. A terrible, terrible, combination.

  45. @Brummagem Joe:

    who simply aren’t very keen on Romney and regard him (not without some reason) as a faker.

    The problem is that Gingrich is every bit as fake as Romney. If Santorum were the second place candidate, I could at least buy this argument, but right now it’s basically a knockdown drag out fight over what color marble veneer the GOP should get for it’s new artificial countertops.

  46. JohnMcC says:

    Mr Gingrich’s constituency doesn’t believe in compromise. Pew Polling (during the debt ceiling fiasco) identified them as “Tea Party” and “Non Tea” and the breakdown on ‘compromise’ vs ‘principles’ was that 53% of TPers would default rather than compromise but only 24% of NTer repubs would do the same. Mr Gingrich knows to whom he is speaking.

  47. @JohnMcC:

    But again, if Gingrich is the Tea Party flag bearer, they’ve already compromised their “principles”. You can’t get much steretypical Washington insider in Gingrich. His popularity with the Tea Party is just another display of how they’re all hat and no cattle.

  48. grumpy realist says:

    @Dazedandconfused: Yah, it’s quite obvious that a lot of the oomph behind Newt is Callista’s desire to become Jacqueline Kennedy redux. (The hair! The HAIR!) What she doesn’t realize is that she’s dragging two stories with her which conflict badly. The first meme is the Jacqueline-refugee-from-the-1950s Little Miss Prissy Goody-Two-Shoes, what with the tailored suits and the pearls and The Hair and The Adoring Stare. This unfortunately runs head-on into the second meme, which is the Trophy Mistress who did the beast with two backs for six years, knowingly, while Newt was cheatin’ and lying’ on his second wife and making a total pig out of himself. You can’t mix the two. There is no image from the US 1950s which allows this. The result is: Callista will never be considered appropriate as First Lady. First Whore, perhaps, or First Tart, but never, ever, a lady.

  49. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: While I agree with you, there are still speaking fees for the “I couldda been a contendah, I couldda been somebody” tour starting the day after the election.

  50. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Buffalo Rude: And don’t forget the drum circles–there have to be drum circles this time!

  51. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The problem is that Gingrich is every bit as fake as Romney.

    This is true but it’s not how many in the GOP base perceive it. As the turnout numbers confirme there a severe enthusiasm deficit in the GOP. The only primary or caucus where turnout was up was SC where they turned out to defeat Romney. The reason he’s winning is because the party establishment have spent a lot of money convincing ordinary Republicans that Newt is unelectable. That may be so but the fact is Romney isn’t a substantially better alternative and he evokes much less enthusiasm in the base.

  52. Kylopod says:

    >This is true but it’s not how many in the GOP base perceive it.

    Perhaps, but I think there’s another consideration: people tend to assume Romney is a moderate-at-heart who tilts rightward for political reasons, while Gingrich is a conservative-at-heart who used to tilt leftward for political reasons. This is not a totally unreasonable supposition when you compare their actual records while in office, as well as the tone of their rhetoric at any time. When Romney says stuff like “We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free-market economy,” he’s essentially speaking Newtish–but with a Romnian accent. When Newt speaks Newtish, it’s clear to everyone he’s a native.