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In the South Carolina debate, Newt Gingrich said he could start over, he would not try to be "a normal candidate." He would not forge a professional team, but would instead focus on a "big solutions, Internet-based campaign from day one, because ... I'm not capable of being a sort of traditional candidate." After Florida, his supporters might hear this as less of a boast than a lament.
Floundering in a barrage of negative advertising and losing in two debates, the sputtering conclusion of Gingrich's Florida campaign was summed up in a bizarre robocall telling voters that Romney had forced elderly Jews in Massachussetts to eat non-Kosher lunches because he vetoed a bill to pay for the good stuff.
It is this lack of disipline under pressure that dooms Gingrich, says Mike French at the Heritage Foundation, quoted in the Financial Times: “He is hitting the articulate conservative high-notes then he’ll talk about putting a colony on the moon, all in the same news cycle."
Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard speculates that Gingrich may have "jumped the shark," and raises the possibility that the survivor challenging in Arizona at the end of the month may be Santorum.
At Slate, John Dickerson notes that in the battle "between Romney's money and organization and Gingrich's momentum, money and organization won out." In addition to pounding the airwaves, Romney "started working the absentee and early voters in mid-December. Romney won that vote by a wide margin."
BuzzFeed's John Ellis predicts that the media will close down its blanket coverage of Gingrich, depriving him of the life force that keeps his low-budget operation in play: "From this point forward, the Suits will declare, it’s Cover Two (football jargon for zone coverage). No more man-to-man coverage of Gingrich. Only Romney gets the full treatment."
Maybe a little more normalcy, a little more fundraising, a little more message discipline and a little more ground game, Gingrich could run for president, rather than just playing the role of a spoiler.
As conservative pundit Rich Lowry puts it, "Florida shows why, when running for president, you usually need to have a presidential campaign to be successful. Gingrich was a lone man raging — often quite literally — against the machine arrayed against him."
Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.