[Posted by Karl]
Anyone who thought Newt Gingrich might go gently into that good night after an apparent shellacking by Mitt Romney in Nevada was mistaken, to put it mildly:
He said he expects to be at parity with Romney by the April 3 Texas primary and “we will go to Tampa,” site of the GOP convention this summer.
Nor is Gingrich going to fulfill what’s no doubt another Romney fantasy — going positive. There had been reports suggesting he would, until Gingrich cleared that up at the caucus night press conference he held in Las Vegas instead of a rally. “I stayed relentlessly positive in Iowa and I lost 22 points,” he said.
The dismissal of the good-cheer strategy came amid the customary Gingrich assault on Romney and President Obama. He labeled them “George Soros-approved candidates” and added for good measure that Romney was “pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase,” a lousy job creator, indifferent toward the poor, and a purveyor of falsehoods. As for Obama, his administration has declared war on religion, Gingrich said, and is pursuing a “radical secular ideology.”
Newt mapped out a detailed strategy that would keep him in the presidential race all the way to the Republican convention, based on how delegates will be awarded in each of the upcoming states. And it appears that Sheldon Adelson will keep funding a pro-Gingrich SuperPAC, even as he signals he will provide even more generous support to Romney if he becomes the Republican nominee.
Gingrich paints this as his refusal to fulfill Romney’s fantasies. But I wonder about that.
After all, if Newt dropped out, media coverage of the GOP nomination campaign would drop, probably precipitously. Mitt is not helped by Newt’s attacks from the left. But Newt’s attacks from the right provide Mitt with an opportunity to not only try harder to sell himself to the conservative base of the GOP, but also subtextually suggest to mushy, unafilliated voters that Romney is not the extremist Democrats will try to portray should Mitt win the nomination. (Yes, that attack makes no sesnse to conservatives, but which GOP nominee has not been attacked as an extremist by the Dems?)
Moreover, regardless of what Newt does, Ron Paul is not going away. Paul will continue to amass delegates in hopes of influencing the platform and getting the most high-profile speaking slot he can negotiate at the convention. If Newt dropped out, the media narrative would inevitably devolve into a Romney-Paul discussion, likely funneling more votes and delegates to Paul. Should Romney win the nomination, it might be further useful to him to be accomodating “demands” from a second-place Newt on issues like Obamacare than having a media narrative of the GOP convention about struggles over defense cuts, drug legalization and the gold standard.
In short, Newt continuing his campaign may not be a “You know who this benefits?” situation… but it’s not clear that a Newtless campaign benefits Romney, either.