Opinion Brief

After Florida: Will Newt stick it out to the 'bitter end'?

Plenty of candidates pledge to keep campaigning until their party's delegates officially pick a nominee. But Newt may be "mad" enough to actually do it

If the polls are to be believed, Mitt Romney will tighten his grip on the Republican presidential nomination with a landslide victory in Florida's crucial primary on Tuesday. But regardless of the Sunshine State result, Romney's nearest rival, Newt Gingrich, is vowing to keep fighting through the party's national convention in August. Gingrich says the nomination will still be up for grabs then because Romney can't win a majority of delegates. Newt's new goal, he says, is turning the GOP's anti-Mitt majority into a pro-Newt faction. Is Gingrich just talking tough, or will he really press on no matter what?

Gingrich is crazy enough to do it: Normally, it's "patently meaningless" when a candidate vows to fight on, says John Heilemann at New York. But Gingrich is so convinced of "his own Churchillian greatness," and so angry at Romney and the Republican establishment for attacking him, that he might fight a protracted battle, even if he knows it's futile. "The same antic, manic, lunatic bloody-mindedness that has made him such a rotten candidate in the Sunshine State may be enough to keep him the race.""Newt may be mad and mental enough to fight on long after Florida"

He should hang in there: Newt can still win, says William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. But to do it, he'll need Rick Santorum to step aside. Santorum says he's sticking in there, too, but Gingrich is the only candidate "within striking distance" of Romney. So Santorum supporters have a choice: They can stick with Santorum and split the conservative, non-Romney vote, or they can make their votes count and get behind Gingrich, the only one who can still "derail the narrative of Romney inevitability.""A vote tomorrow for Santorum still is a vote for Romney"

But Newt is no Hillary: Gingrich really wants to fight to the "bitter end," say Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo, just the way Hillary Clinton did in 2008 against President Obama. But Newt doesn't have the ground operation or the money that Clinton relied on to "drag things out" nationwide, and he won't get a "big fundraising bump after losing in Florida." In the end, "virtually nothing about Gingrich's campaign resembles Clinton's." Sorry, Newt."Why Newt will have a hard time being 2012's Hillary"

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