The Survivors: What Are Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul Doing?

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Santorum's out, Romney won, and the general election has started. But don't tell that to the two Romney rivals still in the race.

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Reuters

Though the headlines and the delegate counts might say otherwise, the GOP primary battle isn't quite over yet. Sure, neither Newt Gingrich nor Ron Paul has any shot at the nomination -- or for that matter the vice-presidential nod -- but they're still in the race. Well, sort of.

NEWT GINGRICH

On Sunday, Gingrich admitted (yet again) that Mitt Romney will be the nominee. Not that his admission meant he was going to save his dignity and his donors' money: Monday night, he told Fox News' Sean Hannity, "I'm thinking of getting it tattooed up here, 'All the way to Tampa,' " while pointing to his forehead, an allusion to the Republican National Convention site. But with Santorum's departure yesterday, he's at least making a half-hearted attempt to position himself as anti-Romney once more, posting this image on his site:

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It's ironic that after weeks of Santorum's campaign practically begging Gingrich to leave the race and allow anti-Romney forces to unite, it's the former Speaker who's still in the hunt. The Onion spoofed Gingrich Tuesday with an article headlined, "Gingrich Urges Romney To Drop Out So He Can Focus On General Election." Good work, but the candidate actually did them one better: On the same day he trumpeted his cred as a conservative, Gingrich undermined it severely by bouncing his $500 check for entering the Utah primary. Andrew Kaczynski (who else?) dug up this old ad showing that Gingrich is just up to old trick:

What is Gingrich's game? He seemed resigned to a likely loss weeks ago. He's basically promised to endorse Romney eventually. Despite sniping that his run was just a ploy for attention, he's lost most of the press corps traveling with him. And his campaign is more than $4 million in debt. Maybe he just has nothing else to do. He was in North Carolina Tuesday and is in Delaware Wednesday.

RON PAUL

Also still on the trail: Rep. Ron Paul. He was out with a new ad on Monday in Texas, slamming Santorum as a "fiscal liberal," Gingrich as "the moon colony guy," and -- unusually -- attacking Romney as a "Massachusetts moderate," along with a fleeting image of an Etch A Sketch. Paul has generally avoided attacking Romney. Even though he's from the Lone Star state, he doesn't stand much chance in its May 29 primary: In March polls, he came in a distant fourth. Here's the rather zippy ad:

But staying in makes a lot more sense for Paul. He's always been playing a long game and, unlike Gingrich, he has a set of policy priorities -- stricter oversight of the Federal Reserve, for example -- and a son, Sen. Rand Paul, both of which he hopes to further within the Republican Party.

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David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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