Just after the South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich--or his minions--put considerable public pressure upon Rick Santorum to stand down, to get out, to leave the race.
Santorum's response was simple. If he began to come in last in any series of races, he would do so. Santorum went on to explain that he had won as many states as Newt had at that point, so there was no need to go anywhere.
That was five states, 3 Santorum victories, and several instances of bottoming out by the Gingrich campaign ago.
The Gingrich people will not like what I have to say next, but it is resolutely true, and there is no argument against it, so here goes...
"If Newt Gingrich believes Mitt Romney is a worse choice for nominee than a real conservative would be, then he must leave the race now. Staying in the race until Super Tuesday hurts the conservative cause, aids Romney, and ultimately will re-elect Barack Obama."
There, it is said. It had to be. It is all true.
This week Billionaire Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson announced his intentions to continue to sink money into the Gingrich SuperPAC "Winning Our Future." This newest round of $10,000,000 would roughly match the $11,000,000 that allowed Gingrich his one state win in South Carolina. But even that is money poorly spent.
Gingrich had the chance to build on his win, but was unable to capitalize in Florida, and his absolute stubbornness in refusing to organize for the three state caucus strike-out that catapulted Santorum to front-runner status demonstrated some old inclinations about the former speaker that had been voiced by many former colleagues. Newt is flagging in polls nationally, ranking behind Ron Paul at times, and does not show a path to victory even if he were to break through on Super Tuesday using massive SuperPAC money to land somewhat mediocre media presence. (After all $10,000,000 across seven states won't even begin to touch a fourth of the penetration rate he had with $11,000,000 in South Carolina.)
Debates are now being universally panned, and the free media will not add up to give Newt new opportunities to "un-re-define" himself from himself.
I asked a few columns back if Gingrich was Churchill, for 2012, the answer seems to be "no!"
But that doesn't render him insignificant.
If Gingrich were to leave, and especially if he were to endorse Santorum, Mitt Romney's campaign would truly be on the death's door. Romney is trailing in Michigan, where he couldn't seem to connect with voters even before Santorum's sweep, and according to Rasmussen--the most accurate pollster in the past six cycles--he trails Santorum by 12 nationally, and by nearly 20 in the swing state of Ohio.
Despite what her "right-to-be-wrongness" Ann Coulter says about Mitt's inevitability, Republicans--if they are smart--should always elect the man for nomination who wins Ohio. Because in the general election, it is the best indicator of who will be President.
Santorum has thicker skin than Newt and Mitt combined, and next to Newt, he's the best debater left in the bunch. But most importantly he is the sharpest contrast to Obama--in nearly every imaginable category.
Newt is steadily polling at 14% in the polls. Santorum has exploded in Michigan and Ohio, is nearly within the margin of error to Romney in Arizona, and almost the same within Gingrich in Georgia. Meanwhile in some states Gingrich finishes last, Santorum never does. But if you add 2/3's of Newt's total to Santorum's, Rick Rollin' would become the new GOP past time.
If Gingrich is a man of principal, he will allow the consolidation and much-more-baggage-free candidacy of Rick Santorum to zoom into an even further all-out lead nationally. If Gingrich stays in, it is obvious his feelings about Romney's danger and likely losing proposition as nominee will come true. And the former speaker would have only himself to blame.
If Romney is the nominee, Obama will be President for a second term. (His inability to take Obama on--on his biggest weaknesses, the target of his faith's racially questionable history and the twisted way the mainstream media will exploit that, his inability to not say things from an entirely silver spoon perspective, and his lack of distinction from Obama on many social issues--like subsidizing abortion, and creating "gay" marriage.)
The GOP's job at the moment is to pick the best candidate they can to beat Obama, and the one who is most-different-than him presents the best possibility.
Especially if that candidate wins Ohio.