Even after losses in several must-win southern primaries, including last weekend's thumping in Louisiana, Newt Gingrich appears more determined than ever to stay in the GOP presidential race. Despite his delusions, the rest of us know that he's "in the goose-egg phase of his descent into irrelevance," says Walter Shapiro at The New Republic. Louisiana "should have extinguished the last embers of Gingrich's wildfire dream of a second-ballot victory at the GOP convention," but since it didn't, here's a five-point reality check on "the sad end of the Gingrich campaign":
1. Gingrich just slashed his campaign staff
In what aide Joe DeSantis calls a shift to a "big-choice convention" strategy, Gingrich replaced his campaign manager, announced he is laying off one-third of his full-time staff, and cut back on travel, relying instead on cheap digital media to spread his message. The cash-strapped, "flailing" campaign had to do something, say Mike Allen and Ginger Gibson at Politico. Though most were betting Newt would actually withdraw, this downsizing amounts to the same thing. I'd call this "Gingrich finally approaching the fifth stage of grief": Acceptance, says Allahpundit at Hot Air.
2. Most of the media has dumped him
On March 23, the last of the newspaper and online reporters traveling with the Gingrich campaign (from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Politico) were called home, leaving only network TV reporters in the Gingrich entourage. If Newt "refuses to quit, we in the news media must quit him" — even if it makes the campaign "a little less naughty" and fun, says Frank Bruni in The New York Times. "I implore Fox News to pull up its drawbridge, CNN to bolt its doors. If a Newt falls in the forest and not a single news anchor listens, can he really hang around?"
3. Gingrich is charging $50 for fan photos
More proof of a "Newt Gingrich death spiral": This week, the candidate began charging admirers for photos with him, a first in his political life. Previously, a campaign staffer would snap a picture and upload it to Newt's website; now, people can only see their photo after forking over $50. Hey, "some campaigns make you travel all the way to Wall Street to pay $2,500 for a photo with a candidate," a Gingrich spokesman tells National Journal. You know who else charges for photos in New York, asks Linda Ocasio in The New Jersey Star-Ledger. "The Naked Cowboy" in Times Square. Gingrich is now similarly "stripped... of dignity."
4. His patron is reportedly putting away the checkbook
After donating $16.5 million to Gingrich's allied super PAC, Winning Our Future, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has kept his wallet closed for more than a month, and appears ready to keep it in his pocket — at least for Gingrich. Last week, Adelson reportedly "sent strong signals" to allies of Mitt Romney that he will eventually send millions Romney's way. It's about time Adelson cut off Gingrich, says J. Patrick Coolican in the Las Vegas Sun. Sure, $16.5 million "is a drop in a bottomless bucket" for Adelson, but it was, inarguably, a waste of money.
5. Newt is lashing out
Campaigning for president is hard, and giving up is even harder, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. Gingrich's recent string of "head-scratcher" statements — like his harsh criticism of President Obama's remarks on slain teenager Trayvon Martin — "typifies the final throes" of doomed candidates. But that "is how primary campaigns end — not with a bang but with a wimper. Or, more accurately, a whine."
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