Why does Newt Gingrich need so much time to drop out of the race for a nomination he never really had a chance to get? He lost all but two primaries and flunked five in a single day last week. On 36 occasions, he managed to come in last in 17.
So why stay in? It's a great ego trip, even if the crowds are rapidly shrinking, and there are other perks. The longer he delays quitting, the longer he gets Secret Service protection and the media attention he craves.
So what? you may ask. Well, Newt's Secret Service detail costs taxpayers $40,000 a day, reported the Washington Post. And his campaign debt is $4.3-million and growing, but Newt has a lot of mega-rich friends like Sheldon Adelson he can hit up. He will go back on the lecture circuit and, after the notoriety of the campaign may be able to up his fee from the $60,000 he has boasted of.
Gingrich didn't get the support he expected from the Jewish community notwithstanding his longtime friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his strident pro-Israel positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including calling the Palestinians an "invented people." It didn't help, either, that Gingrich earned a reputation as a cry baby when he boasted of shutting down the federal government because he felt insulted by having to sit in the back on Air Force One on the ride back to Washington from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.
He was trounced in last week's primaries but said he'd wait eight days to announce his next step – "suspending" his campaign, not withdrawing, a formality that lets him keep collecting money. He also wants to build some suspense about his next step and possibly use the time to negotiate some kind of deal with the Romney campaign.
Gingrich, who had repeatedly vowed to stay in the race until the convention, is letting it be known he hopes to get a prominent speaking opportunity at the Tampa gathering in August.
He also craves a hand in drafting the party platform so he can make sure Mitt Romney will adhere to staunch conservative policies. Of course, once the final gavel sounds at the convention, the only ones who will take the GOP platform seriously (or seem to) will be the Democrats, who will want to use it to pound on Romney for being "severely conservative," to use his own description.
Look for Newt to bow out on Wednesday with a half-hearted endorsement of Romney and a promise to campaign for his old rival. You remember, the one he called a "liar," a purveyor of "pious baloney" and "Obama lite," the man he accused of "dividing Americans against each other" and an "example of what we don't want in a general election candidate."
If you can't remember any of these things, you can be sure Romney will and so will Obama's opposition research team at their Chicago headquarters, where they will mine their vault filled with such gems to happily share with potential voters.
Gingrich boasted of being a great mind with big ideas, but he really offered none unless you count colonizing the moon in preparation for statehood.
What's next for Newt? He'll be writing books and articles, hitting the lecture circuit and showing up on cable television talk shows. You can see him everywhere — except on Mitt Romney's list of possible running mates.