Politics

02.08.12

Newt’s Two-Man-Race Narrative Collapses After Santorum Victories

With Rick Santorum’s wins in Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota, Newt Gingrich loses his claim to being the leading conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

This is the story of Newt and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

It is a tale of two caucus states where Newt was schooled by Rick Santorum in the ways of social-conservative voters and one state where he failed to even make the primary ballot.

Worst of all, it was the day when Newt’s narrative of a two-man race collapsed.

Because right now, angry and almost broke, Newt is no longer the leading candidate to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. That man is Rick Santorum. And what makes Gingrich especially grumpy is that the man he is losing to was once just a pimply backbencher in the 1994 Republican Revolution.

After winning South Carolina, Newt spent all his money trying to win Florida and took $15 million dollars of incoming fire from Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum saved his money and went to Minnesota.

Missouri’s primary race was an expensive beauty pageant with no delegates at stake. But Newt’s organizational failure allowed Rick Santorum a chance to test the fantasy both men have been indulging—a mano-a-mano contest with Mitt. And without a second social conservative in the race, Rick Santorum beat Mitt handily in this particular popularity contest. It is, after all, John Ashcroft’s home state.

At least now Rick Santorum will be the target of Mitt Romney’s million-dollar negative attacks.

Even in Colorado Newt couldn’t catch a break. After running neck and neck all night with Romney, Santorum finally won that contest.

So for now Newt is left broke and unloved, facing the long road ahead with a raised fist. There probably will be better days ahead—Super Tuesday offers Southern states, and Newt has already proven his ability to rise from the political dead. But Rick Santorum just had his best night of the campaign. For all his faults, he has none of the personal baggage of Newt that might offend the faithful.

Newt can find a silver lining somewhere—at least now Rick Santorum will be the target of Mitt Romney’s million-dollar negative attacks.

That’s a thought that can keep Newt warm inside as he faces the future, just him and Callista in a guerilla campaign against the establishment, trying to finally prove that we live in a Newt-centric universe, after all.