After failing to win, um, any primary or caucus of consequence since South Carolina, Newt’s campaign is winding down. In fairness to Newt, I’ve been incorrectly predicting the eminent end of his campaign since before it began, so duty requires me to offer some hard evidence this time.
Thing 1: Reports began circulating yesterday that Newt was dumping 1/3 of his staff. The news prompted this Tweet from one of my favorite political comedians:
Drudge reporting Newt Gingrich is letting go a third of his staff. They must be very ill.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) March 28, 2012
No, they’re not ill and he’s not replacing them with younger, hotter staffers. His campaign is fading.
Thing 2: Newt’s campaign is more than $1.5 million in debt, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings. To put that in perspective, that’s 600,000 gallons of $2.50 per gallon gas and approximately three times his reported credit limit at Tiffany’s.
Thing 3: Newt is now charging $50 to take a photo with him at campaign events. Money for access is the magic formula of American politics, but this is an ominous turn. In the social media age, you want as many people as possible snapping phone pics with you and Tweeting them to their friends with a #250gas or #NewtRox. Charging $50 for a snapshot at a campaign rally means you’re done trying to convert new voters to your cause. Instead, it means you’re only campaigning to squeeze cash out of die-hards so you can pay your debt.
Thing 4: Print journalists have deserted Newt’s campaign. Translation, the people looking for news think there’s no more news there.
I don’t think he’s going to officially drop out soon. More likely, he’s evidently trying to save money by scaling back his travel and campaign schedule to see how the Mitt vs. Rick contest settles itself. Romney is far-and-away the delegate leader, but if he doesn’t have enough delegates after all the primaries to avoid a so-called brokered convention, Newt will then try to use his delegates as bargaining chips with Romney.