Via Conn Carroll at the Examiner, the merriment with which this story is being kicked around on Twitter makes me think Newt is now officially RINO-in-chief for online conservatives for as long as he’s in the race.

It’s your lucky day, Mitch Daniels.

As he was getting ready to leave a speaking engagement Dubuque resident Russell Fuhrman approached him in the lobby of the Holiday Inn:

“Get out now before you make a bigger fool of yourself,” Fuhrman said directly to Gingrich.

Gingrich, visibly stunned, quickly moved forward to talk with other guests…

“I’m a strong Republican but he’s an embarrassment to our party,” Fuhrman said.

Fuhrman later clarified that it was indeed Gingrich’s sandbagging of Paul Ryan yesterday that had made him mad. I’ve already written about my mystification at his comments, but Philip Klein adds a good point to deepen the mystery: Why would a guy like Newt whose brand has always been about Big Bold Solutions criticize Ryan for offering … a big bold solution? (Especially one which Newt himself once seemed to support.) His best argument against the rest of the field was that he’s always been willing to consider radical policy alternatives that more timid conservatives wouldn’t; now Ryan comes along trying to solve the entitlements crisis and suddenly Gingrich goes cold. What exactly is the argument for his candidacy, then? That he’s willing to confront the tough problems that others won’t — except for the one that’s driving the country to fiscal ruin?

Via Mediaite, here’s Rush Limbaugh from today’s show as astounded as the rest of us are. Exit quotation from Bill Bennett: Gingrich “has taken himself out of serious consideration for the [2012] race.”