For a moment, Newt Gingrich could picture an amazing improbable victory for himself. But even Newt thinks that is not to be. Gingrich is but a shadow of the anti-Mitt Romney warrior he was only months ago. A couple weeks ago he said he was going all the way to the Republican National Convention in Tampa; on Sunday he admitted Romney is "far and away the most likely Republican nominee." The twists and turns of Gingrich's presidential campaign brings to mind the 1982 Ironman triathlon, when Julie Moss, a college student who hadn't trained for the competition, shocked spectators by taking the lead and holding it before she eventually collapsed, fell behind, and was forced to crawl across the finish line having, in her words, crapped her pants on national TV.
In January, millions of dollars in Romney ads attacking his character, his conservatism, and, perhaps worst of all, his closeness to former President Ronald Reagan didn't deter him, and neither did conservative commentators calling him a socialist. But last week, he was nearly undone by pollen. He admitted slept 13 hours Tuesday, ABC News' Elicia Dover reported, and still hadn't recovered the next day. His wife, Callista, is often doing as many -- and sometimes more -- public events than he is each day. He once seemed to be using the presidential campaign to sell books and enrich himself; he's now, as Politico points out, self-financing his campaign a bit. Gingrich used to have a body man -- like the Charlie character from the West Wing, someone who does all the little things, from arrange meetings to supplying a candidate's Altoids -- but NBC News' Alex Moe reported Friday the guy who had that job is now running the campaign in North Carolina. Newt's traveling staff is now the Secret Service and his spokesman. As he did when his first staff quit in June 2011, Gingrich blames his struggles on his aides in part. They tried too hard in Florida, Gingrich says, and "It turned out we didn’t have anything like [Romney's] capacity to raise money," he said on Fox News Sunday.
Most shockingly of all, he's admitting that there's a tiny chance he made a mistake. Gingrich told The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty, “It never occurred to me -- and this is one of the lessons I’m contemplating for some future memoir -- it never occurred to me the scale of the Romney fundraising capability... I was fully prepared to be outspent 2-to-1, even 3-to-1. But when you’re up to 5- or 6-to-1, you’re being drowned. You’re not going to be able to match it." At least he thinks he can get a book out of it. That's the Newt we know.