Newt Gingrich insisted the Republican presidential race would continue for “four or five months” even if he loses the Florida primary this week.
John Heilemann: “Pledges to continue the fight unabated in the face of harsh and/or humiliating outcomes are staples of presidential campaigns. And they are also patently meaningless. (Please recall Jon Huntsman’s feigned brio on the night of the New Hampshire primary — and his departure from the race a few days later.) But in Gingrich’s case, he might be serious, so much has he come to despise Romney and the Republican Establishment that has brought down on him a twenty-ton shithammer in Florida, and so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny. The same antic, manic, lunatic bloody-mindedness that has made him such a rotten candidate in the Sunshine State may be enough to keep him the race a good long time.”
JMart and Haberman argue that Gingrich has no incentive to capitulate post-Florida: “Florida may well be a painful body blow, but Gingrich appears deadly serious about a long, bloody march all the way to Tampa – a scenario that is giving the GOP establishment nightmares,” Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman write in the story leading our site this morning. “At 68 and already 14 years past his speakership, this is likely Gingrich’s last chance at the political prize that he’s been coveting for at least two decades. He’s not Romney circa 2008 or Tim Pawlenty – being a good soldier and falling in line in hopes of being rewarded four years hence isn’t an option. And the new rules in which states will distribute their delegates proportionally instead of by winner-take-all rules means that Gingrich can keep accruing a sizable number of delegates even if Romney is besting him…’When you take all the non-Romney votes, it’s very likely that at the convention there will be a non-Romney majority and maybe a very substantial one,’ he said. ‘My job is to convert that into a Gingrich majority.'” It’s that thinking that’s prompting him to try nudging Santorum out of the race.”