It's a pretty true testament to the state of our system of campaign finance that we allow politicians to form entities that allow them to legally raise money to assess whether or not they can run for president. Ultimately, if you want to run for President, why is it the people's business while you're deciding whether or not enough people are going to write you checks?
Even more bizarre that a candidate might run around contemplating collecting 'pledges' from people who want him to run for President, in lieu of actual donations. That was what ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was hellbent on doing until this afternoon. Now CNN and the Politico's Mike Allen have both reported in the past hour that Newt was just teasing us.
That means no Monday press conference in which the 1994 Republican Revolution's architect tells us why he's the man who can defeat Hillary Clinton once again. No signs of Gingrich running around and declaring, "If the people want me, they can come and get me," like we all have $30 million more to throw around in order to get his white-haired head in the game. No burdened mail-carriers in Iowa humping around box after box of "Newt!" DVDs, as he threatened the US Postal Service with on Friday. No dorky t-shirts and gym bags carted around by young conservatives with the slogan "Just Say Newt!"
Gingrich was contemplating the establishment of a "Draft Newt" campaign of his own. While various political chatterers were suggesting it was the first time this had been tried, Gingrich would in fact have been putting himself in the same league as another late entry to 2008's Republican Runaround: Alan Keyes. Who can forget Dr. Keyes who just a couple of months ago launched the "We Need Alan Keyes For President" political action committee to build "grassroots support" to encourage the beginning of Keyes' candidacy for the Republican nomination? All bought and paid for by Dr. Keyes himself.
Could this have been decisive in Gingrich's decision to butt out of the 2008 field - just how absurd the whole thing had started to look? While Matt Taibbi might be suggesting in Rolling Stone that Fred Thompson's Hollywood-on-the-Appalachian Trail campaign represents a new low in presidential politics, perhaps it finally dawned on the Newtster that getting into the game like Keyes was starting to sound lower still, and that this year's syndicated repeats of Just The Ten Of Us didn't require an eleventh hour entry on the slate card.