Newt Gingrich's decision to scale back his presidential campaign means he has finally acknowledged that his prospects for winning the Republican nomination are very slim at best. In effect, he is leaving Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum to duke it out, state by state, for the rest of the primary season, while Gingrich hopes for some political disaster to strike his two rivals.
Gingrich's remaining strategists say he isn't giving up and will focus on denying front-runner Romney the nomination. Gingrich says he still intends to compete at the Republican National Convention this summer. But it's clear that the former House speaker is the longest of long shots. Romney, the GOP front-runner, has 568 delegates, nearly half of the 1,144 needed for nomination, according to the Associated Press, and that's a 2-to-1 lead over Santorum. Gingrich has only 135 delegates, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul lags even further behind. Gingrich has been focusing on the South, but has only won South Carolina and his home state of Georgia, and his campaign is in debt.
Gingrich advisers say he is trimming his schedule, laying off about one-third of his full-time staff, and replacing his campaign manager.
Republican strategists who aren't affiliated with any campaign say Gingrich's hopes for the nomination are over. If someone supplants Romney as the front-runner, it is likely to be Santorum, who has emerged as Romney's main competitor in recent weeks.