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POLITICS

Newt lost by losing

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

After losing five more primaries last night (and getting beaten by Ron Paul in all but one), Newt Gingrich appears ready to finally acknowledge reality and drop out of the presidential race. Sometimes, presidential candidates, even in losing, end up coming out a winner. Mike Huckabee is a good example -- somebody who, before running for president, faced the prospect of a life of obscurity as an ex-governor. Instead, because of his 2008 presidential run, he's a political celebrity with his own Fox show. Rick Santorum, too, can be said to have won even in losing. He showed  political tenacity, improved his national standing that had been damaged after his 18-point loss of his Senate seat in 2006 and even fixed -- for the time being -- his Google problem. But for Newt Gingrich, he actually did lose by losing.

Going into the campaign, Gingrich had a career as an author, speaker, Fox contributor and policy entrepreneur. But now, as Molly Ball reported last week:

The Fox News contributor gig is no longer, having been suspended when Gingrich became a candidate, and quietly canceled thereafter. Relations between Gingrich and the cable channel have notably soured. Recently, Gingrich told a Delaware Tea Party group that he felt the network had exhibited a bias against him, accusing it of "distortion"; the network fired back with a biting statement: "He's still bitter over the termination of his contributor contract." It seems safe to say that bridge, for Gingrich, has been burned.

The policy and consulting enterprise Gingrich helmed is similarly on the rocks. American Solutions for Winning the Future, his major nonprofit, shut down last August, and the Gingrich Group, his for-profit advocacy shop, filed for bankruptcy in Georgia earlier this month. Together, the two entities had grossed more than $100 million over the course of a decade, according to Bloomberg. Now, thanks to Gingrich's quest for the presidency, they are defunct.

Had Gingrich's campaign actually lived up to his branding of it as being solutions oriented, it might have served some benefit, even if it came at a personal cost. But Gingrich's campaign for president was largely an embarrassment to himself and to conservatives. Early on, he attacked Rep. Paul Ryan's entitlement reforms as "right-wing social engineering" and as he became desperate to make gains against Mitt Romney, he attacked free market capitalism. Given his penchant for saying outlandish and unexpected things, I expect to see him reemerge as a media figure. But I hope my fellow conservatives don't take him seriously once he's no longer useful as a vehicle for stopping (or slowing) Romney.

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