"I'm going to be the nominee." —Newt Gingrich, December 1, 2011.
With Rick Santorum's double win in the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi (Mitt Romney placed third in both), the upstart ex-senator from Pennsylvania has undeniably claimed the throne as the non–Romney in the race. As Romney's camp keeps pointing out, the math remains on Romney's side. But these triumphs for the anti-contraception candidate will ensure that the GOP slog continues on, with Santorum jabbing and Romney bleeding. They also show that Newt Gingrich's campaign is dead—whether Gingrich knows it or not. At his not-such-a-concession speech on Tuesday night, he said the nation needs "a visionary leader" (meaning him), bashed the media for perpetuating the Romney-is-inevitable line, and vowed "we will continue to run a people's campaign." (There was no shout-out to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is keeping his campaign alive by funneling millions to the pro-Gingrich super-PAC.)
But if he's not whistling a victory tune in Dixie, he won't be doing so anyplace else. He can stay in the race—and utter increasingly extreme remarks in a desperate attempt to gain attention—but it's not premature to mark the end of Gingrich 2012. The only remaining question is how long he'll fight on as a zombie. (Romney might even encourage Gingrich to stay in the contest to prevent Santorum from consolidating the anti-Romney vote.) So here's a not-that-gauzy look back at a campaign that failed to rescue the United States at its darkest hour:
- May 16: After Newt Gingrich blasts Rep. Paul Ryan's GOP budget plan as "social engineering," news cameras catch an Iowa voter asking Newt, "Why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?" Gingrich subsequently claims he didn't say what he had said on national television—and blames the media
- May 18: As the candidate continues to take fire, spokesman Rick Tyler pens a poetic rant prophesying a Gingrich triumph. He includes the phrase "out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich."
- June 9: Gingrich's campaign implodes for the first time as top aides, including Tyler, depart en masse. Among other complaints, staffers cite Gingrich's perplexing decision to take a week off in the middle of the campaign to go on a Greek cruise with his wife, Callista.
- June 22: The Washington Post reports that Gingrich had a $500,000 to $1 million line of credit at Tiffany and Co.
- November 9: Gingrich, for a brief moment, emerges as a serious contender for the nomination. When CNBC's John Harwood asks Gingrich about his pseudo-lobbying work on behalf of Freddie Mac, the former speaker has a nifty response: "I offered advice—my advice as an historian."
- November 19: Gingrich tells members of the Occupy Wall Street movement to "go get a job, right after you take a bath."
- November 23: Mother Jones reports exclusively that young Newt Gingrich looked a lot like Dwight Schrute. The similarities don't end there.
- November 29: Newt releases a novel. It's kind of a whitewash.
- December 2: The National Journal quotes one senior Republican as saying, "Bigfoot dressed as a circus clown would have a better chance of beating President Obama than Newt Gingrich."
- December 4: As he's being buried by a deluge of negative campaign ads, Gingrich expresses his dismay that politics has gotten so nasty.
- December 10: Gingrich says he stopped supporting an individual mandate for health insurance in 1993. Video promptly surfaces of Gingrich calling for an individual mandate for health insurance in 2005. (Mother Jones had reported three weeks earlier that in a 2007 column Gingrich called on Congress to impose an individual mandate.)
- December 15: Gingrich endorses personhood for zygotes.
- December 15: Alleging that federal courts have become "grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful" and "frankly, arrogant," Gingrich promises to wage an Andrew Jackson-style war against the judiciary branch if he's elected president. Four days later he suggests that if judges resist, he'll have them arrested.
- January 6: Gingrich, reportedly worth $6.7 million, tells a voter in Laconia, New Hampshire, "I'm not rich."
- January 22: In South Carolina, Gingrich goes to war against both food stamp recipients and Juan Williams of Fox News. He holds his final rally in the state aboard a decommissioned aircraft carrier.
- January 23: In an effort to protect the United States from an onslaught of rolling R's, Gingrich (who publishes a Spanish-language website) promises to eliminate bilingual ballots—an apparent violation of the Voting Rights Acts. He attempts to court English-speaking Cuban-American voters by floating the idea of bombing Fidel Castro.
- January 26: Newt promises to build a US colony on the moon if elected president, in apparent violation of international law.
- February: Although he personally has never owned a gun and freaked out the one time he tried to shoot a pig, Gingrich mocks Obama by telling voters you can't fit a gun rack in a Chevy Volt. Video promptly surfaces of a Florida man fitting a gun rack in a Chevy Volt.
- February 3: Gingrich blasts Washington elites who "live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the Metro." Footage promptly surfaces of Gingrich riding the Metro.
- February 27: Gingrich tells supporters in Nashville that Andrew Jackson would have hated President Obama. We rate that statement mostly true.
- February 28: Gingrich tells supporters in Chattanooga that Mitt Romney would have fired Christopher Columbus. We rate that statement true.
- March 6: Gingrich tells voters he has a secret plan to win the war against $2.50/gallon gasoline. Gingrich mocks Obama for promoting algae as an alternative energy source. Video promptly surfaces of Newt Gingrich touting the benefits of algae as an alternative energy source.
What'd we miss? Leave your favorite memories in the comments.