Via First Read, Newt Gingrich finally seems to be moving toward the door, weeks after Mitt Romney cemented himself as the presumptive nominee:
“I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing,” Gingrich told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Monday. “We will be in North Carolina tomorrow night and we will look and see what the results are.”
He acknowledged that he would have to “reassess” his campaign depending on how he fares in Delaware, a winner-take-all state with 17 delegates at stake.
“This has been a good opportunity for us, we have been here seeing a lot of people,” Gingrich said. “We have got really positive responses and I would hope we would do well here – either carry it or come very, very close.”
Tonight’s primaries were supposed to be Rick Santorum’s last stand, but now that he’s out of the picture, they’re no longer a news story. Since Santorum suspended his candidacy, the focus has been on the general election, and without media attention there’s really no point for Gingrich to keep his campaign going. The conservatives who wanted to stretch out the primary race – Sarah Palin chief among them – have been drowned out by the general Republican acceptance of Romney as the presumptive nominee.
But while it would be pointless for Gingrich to continue his campaign, he hasn’t completely backed off from his unrealistic argument that Romney is still beatable:
“Gov. Romney is clearly the frontrunner but that doesn’t mean he is inevitable,” Gingrich told a roughly 50 person crowd inside the Delaware GOP headquarters. “It is very dangerous for frontrunners to start behaving like they are inevitable because the voters might decide that’s not so true. Frankly, I think it is a mistake for Romney to kick-off his general election campaign tomorrow in New Hampshire. He has about half the votes he needs to be nominated.”
Why does Gingrich continue to make these claims when it’s clear the rest of the world has moved on from the primary horserace? Maybe he’s just invested so much in his message that he feels he can’t let it go so easily. Maybe he’s still vying for some sort of deal with Romney, as unlikely as that would be right now. Or maybe he has his eye on a prime speaking role at the convention, and thinks that if he holds onto enough of his supporters for long enough, he’ll have a better chance of getting one. That last prospect seems like the most likely. Even if Gingrich manages to win in Delaware tonight, it doesn’t matter. The primary is over, and at this point the best he can hope for is a nice consolation spot at the convention.