Gingrich Tells Romney He'll Quit the Race

By , New York Times - April 26, 2012

WASHINGTON — Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign was always improbable: He was a Washington insider, twice divorced, with a lavish lifestyle and a penchant for off-the-cuff bluntness that is perfect for a pundit, not a politician.

A one-stop destination for the latest political news "” from The Times and other top sources. Plus opinion, polls, campaign data and video.

A Newt Gingrich supporter Tuesday in Concord, N.C.

But Mr. Gingrich, a former speaker of the House, tapped into conservative qualms about Mitt Romney and umbrage at the press, and he used new financial rules that repeatedly resurrected his struggling campaign with millions of dollars from a single wealthy donor.

In the end, though, Mr. Gingrich’s roller-coaster campaign of “big ideas” was brought down by a combination of gaffes and a furious barrage of negative advertising that left him largely on the sidelines after Florida’s primary at the end of January.

On Wednesday came word that Mr. Gingrich would formally end his campaign next week and join the swelling ranks of onetime critics of Mr. Romney who have pledged to help him retake the White House for Republicans.

Mr. Gingrich informed Mr. Romney of his decision on Wednesday morning as the Republican National Committee was officially embracing Mr. Romney’s claim to the party’s nomination. A Gingrich spokesman described the conversation as “cordial and respectful.”

“I think you have to at some point be honest with what’s happening in the real world, as opposed to what you’d like to have happened,” Mr. Gingrich said at a Republican Party event in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.

The decision leaves only Representative Ron Paul of Texas in the race with Mr. Romney and helps clear away distractions for Republicans as they gear up for what is likely to be a six-month, $2 billion clash with President Obama.

For weeks, Mr. Gingrich had appeared unwilling to take his own advice, pushing forward to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer and pinning his hopes on delegates who he predicted would abandon Mr. Romney in favor of a conservative alternative.

But the lack of money and the lack of primary victories finally caught up with him. His campaign owes more than $4 million to vendors after winning just 2 of 43 contests. Mr. Romney scored commanding victories Tuesday in five primaries, including one in Delaware, where Mr. Gingrich had campaigned enthusiastically.

Aides said Mr. Gingrich and his wife, Callista, had decided to spend the next several months as “citizens,” helping to turn out conservative voters on behalf of Republicans.

Even before Mr. Gingrich’s announcement, the Republican National Committee had announced plans to put its resources at the disposal of Mr. Romney’s Boston-based campaign.

“Governor Romney’s strong performance and delegate count at this stage of the primary process have made him our party’s presumptive nominee,” said Reince Priebus, the committee’s chairman. “In order to maximize our efforts, I have directed my staff at the R.N.C. to open lines of communication with the Romney campaign.”

Three veteran Republican strategists with ties to Mr. Romney’s brain trust will be the primary conduits between the two operations, officials said. They are Brian Jones, a former party official; Ward Baker, a political consultant from Tennessee; and Kevin Madden, a former spokesman for Mr. Romney.

The Romney campaign has begun to convert the primary-season operation to a general-election behemoth able to take on Mr. Obama’s Chicago-based organization. It will also include the quiet search for a vice-presidential nominee.

In Washington on Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida continued his unofficial audition with a foreign policy speech intended to highlight his grasp of national security. In the speech, at the Brookings Institution, he called for continued engagement by the United States abroad.

“On the most difficult transnational challenges of our time, who will lead if we do not?” asked Mr. Rubio, who campaigned with Mr. Romney earlier in the week. “The answer, at least today, is that no other nation or organization is willing or able to do so.”

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas endorsed Mr. Romney, three months after ending his presidential bid. “Mitt’s vision and record of private sector success will put America back on the path of job creation, economic opportunity and limited government,” his statement said.

But the day’s news cycle belonged primarily to Mr. Gingrich, whose decision to abandon his presidential bid was expected and notable at the same time.

He announced his presidential intentions almost a year ago, pledging solutions to the nation’s ills in spite of forces aligned against change. But his gauzy promise of “hope and opportunity” amid economic strife fizzled quickly amid reports that he held a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s and blowback over his bluntly critical assessment of the budget proposals offered by House Republicans as “right-wing social engineering.”

That might have been the end of his candidacy if not for two factors: his ability to take command of the debates, often by assailing the press, and his relationship with Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate who pumped $20 million into a “super PAC” backing Mr. Gingrich.

The debate performances forced Americans to take a second look at Mr. Gingrich, and his numbers shot up in polls. The money gave his campaign the ability to withstand brutal ads, mostly from Mr. Romney and his allies, that would have destroyed a campaign with fewer resources.

But after a victory in South Carolina, Mr. Gingrich stumbled in the Jan. 31 Florida primary and beyond. After weeks of hanging on to the faint hope of a contested convention, he set up his own exit strategy this week by suggesting that he might have to reassess if he did not win the Delaware primary. He did not, and on Wednesday he told Mr. Romney of his plans during a phone call.

R. C. Hammond, a spokesman for Mr. Gingrich, said the candidate had made no deals with Mr. Romney in exchange for dropping out and had never asked Mr. Romney for help paying off his campaign debt.

“We take responsibility for all the debt obligations that we have,” Mr. Hammond said, adding that Mr. Gingrich planned to spend the coming months trying to raise money to pay them off. He said Mr. Gingrich planned to spend the fall campaigning for Republicans.

“Victory only comes for Republicans with a strong conservative turnout in the fall,” Mr. Hammond said.

Read Full Article »

Latest On Twitter

Follow Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics Video

More RCP Video Highlights »