Newt Gingrich is imploding

After finishing a distant second to Mitt Romney in Nevada on Saturday, Newt Gingrich became unhinged during an evening press conference, promising a prolonged battle for the Republican nomination:

Newt Gingrich vowed again to stay in the Republican presidential contest until the convention in August and said he will spend the next several months engaged in a bitter battle with Mitt Romney.

Speaking to the press after the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mr. Gingrich repeatedly hammered Mr. Romney as a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-taxes candidate who has the backing of the Republican establishment.

“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. “I will be a candidate for president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”

Mr. Romney ignored Mr. Gingrich in his victory speech tonight. But Mr. Gingrich seemed insistent on making sure that his rival cannot simply look the other way.

He accused Mr. Romney of purposely leaking false information about Mr. Gingrich’s plans to drop out of the presidential race, calling that Mr. Romney’s “greatest fantasy” in the race.

And Mr. Gingrich said that recent meetings he held with donors were meant to map out a plan to continue getting his message out despite Mr. Romney’s superior fund-raising.

“The entire establishment will be against us,” he predicted. But he said that by appearing on national television and doing interviews in newspapers, he will spread his agenda.

“The American people want somebody who is genuinely conservative, who is prepared to change Washington,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Gingrich is apparently taking things so personally, that when asked who he was pulling for in the Super Bowl, he said, “I am for the Giants. Period.” The New England Patriots are based in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the state where Romney served as Governor.

Watching the episode unfold over Twitter on Saturday evening was interesting as many of the conservatives I follow were beginning to acknowlege that Gingrich was done, despite his plans to stay in the race until the Republican convention in August.

Dick Armey, who served in the House with Gingrich, also explained that it’s time for the Tea Party movement to move on from the former Speaker’s campaign and explained that his organization, FreedomWorks, is changing its focus to congressional elections, a sign that Romney’s nomination is being viewed as inevitable.

Gingrich is hoping to regain his footing in the race on March 6th, Super Tuesday, when a few Southern states will head to the polls. But there is a sense that Rick Santorum may begin to see a bump in the polls as Gingrich is losing faith among conservatives. Recent polls by Public Policy Polling show him leading in Minnesota, where Gingrich held an 18 point lead in late January, and second to Romney in Colorado.

Gingrich has been waging a largely personal war on Romney since December, when his numbers began to fall. When you listen to Gingrich speak, you get the sense that he believes that he is entitled to the nomination, and how dare anyone question it.

But assuming Romney is able to create some separation between himself and the rest of the pack by April, there is going to be a substantial amount of pressure on Gingrich to drop out of the race, if he’s still around or hasn’t been replaced by Santorum, who clearly doesn’t have the campaign infrastructure to drag out the race.

In the end, the nominee will most likley be Romney. The longer this race goes, the more trouble Republicans will maintain their majority in the House and winning the Senate. And that may well fall at the feet of Newt Gingrich.

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