Huffpost Politics
Jason Linkins Headshot

Rick Santorum's Exit Is Good News For Newt Gingrich, According To Newt Gingrich

Posted: Updated:

Over the past couple of days, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been going back and forth on whether the delegate math and Romney's superior war chest means that Mitt's going to be the inevitable nominee, or whether the result of this weekend's Masters should lead him to tattoo the word "TAMPA" on his forehead and inspire him to press on with his plans to unleash full-tilt Pinball King chaos at the Republican National Convention.

But that period of vacillation appears to have subsided with the news that Rick Santorum is exiting the race. Now, Gingrich is saying that his supporters are asking him to keep fighting. This raises a series of questions, like, "Wait, Newt Gingrich still has supporters?" and "If so, can they please send some money to Utah?"

Nevermind that! As the Associated Press reports, Gingrich has declared this a two-man race:

"It's not over and he has not won it yet," Gingrich said, speaking of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who moved closer to claiming the nomination a day earlier after his chief rival, Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race.

"It's very clear that Romney does not, today, have the majority of the delegates," Gingrich said.

Gingrich is correct that Romney does not yet have the 1,144 delegates it takes to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention, but Romney is well on his way with more than half the total.

(That third paragraph is best imagined as if the reporter was speaking it aloud and rolling her eyes, isn't it?)

But okay, let's recap what amounts to the revivified Newt Gingrich "two-man race" strategy (all of which I imagine would be more easy to pull off if he hadn't gutted his staff two weeks ago?).

Step one: Get back to attacking Romney. Which is odd, because Gingrich is now simultaneously saying that he could "enthusiastically" back Romney, whilst also saying that Romney is "dishonest" and an "Etch A Sketch," instead of being a straight-shooting, real conservative.

Step two: Appeal to Santorum supporters. Here's the written statement he offered in the wake of Santorum's exit:

I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice. I humbly ask Senator Santorum's supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa. We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget.

Newt is asking "humbly," which he almost never does, but there just isn't time to challenge each Santorum voter to a Lincoln-Douglas debate. (They will be able to pay for the privilege much later, I imagine.)

Step three: Get some more delegates. JUST...I DUNNO, NEWT WANTY SO GIVE HIM SOME? Per Politico:

Newt Gingrich said Wednesday he has no plans to follow Rick Santorum's lead and get out of the race, noting he "would like to win as many delegates as possible" as the Republican primary continues.

Gingrich said on Fox News that with Santorum suspending his campaign, "I believe that now that we're down essentially to the two of us, we're going to gain delegates."

"I would like to win as many delegates as possible," Gingrich said, adding, "We're certainly going to win delegates," and "I'm campaigning selectively in places where we believe we will pick up delegates," and "We'll continue to pick up delegates."

Your delegates. Give Newt them.

At any rate, that's his new theory of a "two-man race," in which the third man he's somehow forgotten about, Ron Paul, is actually markedly better at all of this than Newt is.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results
Register To Vote