This afternoon, Newt Gingrich’s Twitter account linked to a video with the following teaser, “Take a look at some interesting delegate math. The race is far from over and we will win this nomination.” The video, uploaded to Newt’s YouTube account, is of one of his senior advisers outlining how it’s possible for Gingrich to clinch the Republican nomination, despite only having won the states of South Carolina and Georgia to date. It appears that Gingrich’s camp is relying on states that assign their delegates as late as May and early June, hoping to win large winner-take-all states like Texas to clinch the nomination.
Strangely, the video uploaded by Gingrich’s own staff also include Karl Rove’s immediate and stinging rebuke, where he explains that the Gingrich campaign cannot stay alive until May to compete in Texas when most states where Gingrich could be competitive proportionally allocate their delegates. Rove states,
You cannot win the nomination if like in tonight, in Virginia, where Mitt Romney got 41 delegates, at minimum, to zero for Gingrich and Santorum. So, you know, it’s plausible to say ‘stay alive til Texas’ and ‘win in Texas in the end.’ But between now and then you got to close the gap and you can’t close the gap a delegate, or two or three or four at a time. Particularly when you ran third in Tennessee and Oklahoma.
Gingrich’s claims that a nomination is possible, despite these extreme mathematical improbabilities, reminds me of the 2008 primary season where Gov. Mike Huckabee stayed in the race far longer than he should have against Sen. John McCain. In what remains my favorite “Saturday Night Live” sketch of all time, Weekend Update’s Seth Meyers asks Huckabee why he had yet to concede, despite the mathematical impossibility of winning. The back and forth is great television, well-acted on Huckabee’s part, and ends with Huckabee admitting that while he could not possibly win, he would not be conceding in the near future.
In the four years since that appearance, Huckabee wrote a best-selling book, became a Fox News contributor and began hosting a Fox News program. What was inexplicable at the time of the SNL appearance suddenly became clear: Huckabee rode the coattails of his candidacy all the way to the bank.
As my colleague Alana Goodman explained today, the only path forward for Santorum to clinch the nomination is if Newt Gingrich drops out of the race, leaving the field open for Santorum to capture the not-Romney vote. In countless debates, Gingrich continually took the path of taking on Obama versus his Republican opponents. He has claimed taking down the president is his number one priority while at the same time, during his speech last night, explaining:
I don’t believe the Romney technique of outspending your opponent four- or five-to-one with negative ads will work against Barack Obama, because there is no possibility that any Republican is going to out-raise the incumbent president of the United States. Therefore, you can’t follow that strategy.
What you have to have is somebody who knows what they believe, understands how to articulate it so it cuts through all the media, offsets the bias of the elite media who are desperate to re-elect the president and has the guts to take the president head-on every single time he’s wrong.
If Gingrich truly believes this, if he thinks Romney cannot win against the incumbent president, I cannot fathom that a man as intelligent as he is actually believes he’s the man who can do it. What price tag does Gingrich put on the free publicity he’s garnering while he remains in the race? Is it high enough to forfeit what he’s claimed is the Republicans’ only chance at victory in November?