Gingrich: Maybe Romney should pull out if he loses Michigan

Whatever one thinks about Newt Gingrich in the context of the presidential race, every interview with the former Speaker is interesting and provocative in one way or another. Yesterday Gingrich sat down with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday to discuss politics and policy, spending almost two-thirds of the interview wearing his “analyst cap,” as Wallace requested. Wallace challenged Gingrich on why he hasn’t followed his own advice on pulling out of the race in order to strengthen the leading conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, and Gingrich replies that he now agrees with Rick Santorum on staying in the race — and points to the ups and downs Gingrich has already experienced as a reason to stay the course. Almost at the same time, Gingrich muses that a Romney loss in Michigan should have the long-time frontrunner and leading delegate gainer thus far considering retirement:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hinted Sunday that if rival Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney loses the primary election in his home state of Michigan, he should drop out of the race.

“If he loses his home state, I don’t see what he says the next morning to his donors to stay in the race,” Mr. Gingrich told “Fox News Sunday.”

If Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, can’t win his home state in a primary election, how can he beat President Obama in Michigan, which typically votes with the Democrats, Mr. Gingrich asked.

“For a general election, that’s not a very good sign,” he said.

Gingrich didn’t go as far as committing to withdrawal if he loses Georgia, his own native state. So far, he has a pretty substantial lead in the Peach State per the RCP average, but the last polling is from two weeks ago — and Santorum is within single digits, nine back in the Landmark/Rosetta Stone survey of almost 1500 likely voters. Santorum might give Gingrich reason to eat his words yet again on withdrawal thresholds. The notion that Romney should consider withdrawing ahead of Gingrich on the basis of one loss — while Gingrich has only won one contest in this primary process — is a bit self-serving and rather laughable. But what else is he supposed to say at this point?

Nevertheless, Gingrich does well in this interview at presenting a reasonable and intellectually sound basis for his policy stances in the final third of the interview. We’ll see if this is the Newt Gingrich we see at the next debate, the one who impressed Republicans with his message of unity against Obama and focus on fiscal conservatism, or the one who lashed out at Romney for several weeks and talked about moon bases by 2020. If it’s the former, he may have a good night indeed, especially if Santorum and Romney spend the night going after each other.

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