Gingrich to exit without endorsing Romney

posted at 9:21 am on May 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Newt Gingrich exits the race today, nearly two months after winning his last state in the nomination chase.  According to CNN, Gingrich won’t formally endorse Mitt Romney on his way out as some had expected, but will wait for a couple of weeks instead.  He will offer “support” for the Republican nominee:

Newt Gingrich will briefly mention presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and signal support for his candidacy when the former House speaker suspends his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination on Wednesday, Gingrich’s spokesman R.C. Hammond said. …

Gingrich, in his remarks Wednesday, will discuss Romney in the context of “how we need to help defeat Barack Obama and the need to help (House Speaker John) Boehner” maintain Republican control of the House of Representatives, Hammond said.

Hammond says that Gingrich’s endorsement will come as “no surprise,” but it will come later in the month.  The two camps are negotiating a joint appearance, most likely hinging on Romney’s efforts to help retire Gingrich’s campaign debt.  Gingrich was $4.5 million in the hole at the end of March, and is almost certainly worse off now.  He will need a lot of help from Romney and his backers to get out of the deep well of red ink in which his campaign has sunk.

Rick Santorum, on the other hand, says he doesn’t need help in retiring a much smaller debt, under $1 million according to campaign sources.  He meets with Romney on Friday, and the Associated Press reports that Santorum wants some assurances on policy before issuing his formal endorsement:

Romney has changed his position on bedrock issues such as abortion and gay rights. He supported the 2008 Wall Street bailout that angered conservatives and paved the way for the rise of the tea party. And he signed a health care overhaul as governor that provided the groundwork for Democrats’ national law that requires all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine. Romney’s health care overhaul in Massachusetts required health care coverage.

That’s the primary issue Santorum plans to discuss Friday when he meets privately with Romney.

“We want to make sure he doesn’t replace it with any kind of mandate,” Santorum adviser Hogan Gidley said. He added, “Rick just wants to have a candid, open conversation about making sure the folks in the 11 states that voted for him, and the conservative movement, have a voice in the Romney campaign.”

Advisers caution that an endorsement — or a public appearance for that matter — is unlikely to immediately follow Santorum’s private meeting with Romney.

Santorum has, like Gingrich, already stated publicly that he will support the Republican nominee, but has come short of a formal endorsement.  Both men need to hold onto that step as the only value they have to trade for concessions.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign salutes Gingrich on the way out by playing his greatest hits — against Romney:

A bloody Republican primary campaign left lots of footage of insults lying around.

In a new online advertisement, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign strings together some of Newt Gingrich’s criticism of Mitt Romney that Iowans heard earlier in the season when both Republicans were angling to be the GOP nominee.

Gingrich is expected to quit the race today and endorse Romney, but the Obama web video questions what exactly Gingrich likes about Romney.

The ad, set to dramatic piano music, shows footage of Gingrich making comments such as “Why should we expect him to level with us about anything if he’s president?” In a clip from a debate, Gingrich says Romney’s investment firm, Bain Capital, sometimes looted companies and left behind thousands of unemployed workers.

There is no small amount of irony in Team Obama’s inclusion in this ad of Gingrich’s whining over negative campaigning.  They just got done claiming that Romney — who gets painted as a ruthless executive in this ad — would somehow be ruth-filled as a Commander in Chief when it came time to kill an Osama bin Laden.  Now they want to echo Gingrich’s “We can’t elect a big meany” argument?  Er … good luck with that.


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