Confirmed: Gingrich and Romney met privately over the weekend

I realize that the campaigns and even the candidates themselves are periodically in contact, but I can’t imagine how the interactions must be when you’ve reached this point in the campaign. Newt’s bitterness at Romney’s negative ads and his contempt for his “Massachusetts moderation” have been palpable for months. Is he political enough of a creature that he can lay that aside for a meeting like this? Even if he is, how does Romney engage with him on a personal level knowing that he feels that way? Is there small talk, feigned friendliness, etc? Or is it all no-nonsense “let’s cut to the chase” dealmaking?

I guess we’ll find out in “Game Change II.”

Mr. Gingrich, responding to questions from The Washington Times, did not deny the meeting, but explicitly said he hasn’t been offered a position in a potential Romney administration in exchange for dropping out…

“There is no agreement of any kind, and I plan to go all the way to Tampa,” Mr. Gingrich said, referring to the August GOP presi[JUMP]dential nominating convention in Florida…

On Tuesday, the former House speaker signaled that he is toning down the anti-Romney rhetoric he has used on the campaign circuit, telling reporters while campaigning in Annapolis that, “Obviously I will support [Mitt Romney] and will be delighted to do anything I can to help defeat Barack Obama.”

But Wednesday, the former congressman from Georgia struck a defiant note again. “Romney has to earn this. It’s not going to be given to him,” he told Washington-based radio station WTOP.

Romney confirmed the meeting on Hannity’s radio show today but was coy about what they discussed. I can imagine three sorts of deals — minor, major, and grand bargain. The minor deal would be for Newt to lay off him for the rest of the primaries in return for a decent speaking gig at the convention. The Times piece I quoted notes that Newt does seem to have turned more positive lately, but maybe he made that calculation on his own, without Romney’s prodding. How does it benefit him now to dump on the presumptive nominee when he has no chance of winning himself? The major deal would be for Newt to drop out and endorse Romney in return for a prime speaking gig — maybe the second night of the convention or in primetime before the keynote or Romney’s own speech — and some help with his campaign debt. Hard to believe Newt would turn around after all this and back Mitt, but if his money problem really starts to bite, he might have no choice.

The grand bargain would be, as the Times suggests, some sort of role in Romney’s administration in return for … what? What could Newt possibly do for him that would warrant that big of a plum? Campaigning for Romney around the country won’t add many more votes than simply endorsing him would, and his negatives might actually be a liability. Even if there was something Newt could do for him, what role could he possibly serve in a Romney administration? Space czar? Ambassador to Belgium or something? C’mon.

Here’s Jim DeMint at the Examiner’s editorial office today reassuring Republicans that Romney’s learned conservatism as a “second language” over the past four years. Whew.

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