Meghan McCain on Why Newt Gingrich Should Quit After Florida Primary

After today's Florida primary, the former speaker of the House needs to go home, says Meghan McCain.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Today is the day of the Florida primary, and it will most likely be the day that Mitt Romney clinches the 2012 Republican nomination for president. I admit that I have a terrible track record of predicting the outcome of elections, but I think it’s pretty safe to say Romney is going to win Florida. The most recent Rasmussen poll has him leading Gingrich by 16 points. The right wing of the party might have fought tooth and nail against Romney, but after a long and arduous primary process, he has now proven that he is in fact the strongest contender we have to run against President Obama.

But somehow, Newt didn’t get that memo. This week, Gingrich announced that even if he loses Florida, he vows to stay in the race until the Republican National Convention this summer. I know that I have made quite clear my feelings toward Gingrich, and I have publicly endorsed Romney as my choice for the nominee a long time ago ... but what exactly is Newt Gingrich thinking this time?!? For a man who waxes poetic about the good of the Republican Party and selflessness and leadership, he is now vowing to put his own personal interests and ego in front of everything else.

When Gingrich loses Florida—a winner-take-all state—he will be trailing Romney badly. And Romney will be well on his way to winning Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Arizona, and a large number of delegates left on March 6, Super Tuesday—riding high on the momentum from Florida. If Gingrich continues to stay in the race until the convention, the result will be an embarrassing bloodbath that will split the Republican Party in two. He will be giving Democrats time and ammunition. President Obama will only have to continue to reference Gingrich in his attacks against Romney.

Do you want to know what real pious baloney is? Gingrich prolonging his campaign until the convention simply for self-serving purposes. Never mind the hypocrisy that he considers himself a “Washington outsider” even though he spent almost 30 years in Congress. Never mind the fact that Gingrich was ousted in 1998 as speaker of the House because of ethics violations and was forced to pay a $300,000 fine. Never mind the fact that Gingrich worked as a “historian” for Freddie Mac and was paid a reported $1.6 million for his advising. In my world, you don’t get to call yourself a Washington outsider if you have done all of those things. But hey, I think it’s fair to say Gingrich and I don’t live in the same world.

There is something particularly desperate about Gingrich vowing to stay in the race until the convention. When he’s up in the polls, he claims the voters are exercising their democratic rights. When he’s down, he says voters are having the “party establishment” forced down their throats. You see, Republicans, it’s Gingrich’s world, and apparently we all have to be subjected to it. Gingrich is an avid lover and student of history, yet with all of his knowledge—and despite what you think about him, Gingrich is a very smart man—he still doesn’t want to see the writing on the wall and concede defeat after Florida.

If Gingrich loses Florida and doesn’t concede sometime soon after, he doesn’t get to publicly cry that he is selfless and fighting for the Reagan Republicans and the honor of the party. He doesn’t get to act like he is fighting some noble cause. Gingrich was never meant to make it this far. I personally never believed he was entirely serious about running until he started winning. He mounted a surprisingly lengthy campaign, but did he really expect to emerge as the Republican nominee? After today, what scenario can he logically present that leads him on a path to beating Romney and becoming the GOP nominee?

Tonight is really a time for him to start thinking of the greater good of the party and maybe start petitioning for a position in Romney’s cabinet. At the end of the day, all that matters is what Republican voters want. There is no prize for second place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Gingrich will leave the Republican race with an honorable exit. In classic Gingrich fashion, he’s probably going to make sure he wreaks as much havoc and drama as possible.