Conservatives Are Laughing at, Not Scared of Newt Now

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It wasn't that long ago that some of the top conservative publications were in full-on Newt panic, but they're now a bit more mellow, just sitting back and enjoying the candidate make a fool of himself. Three months ago, National Review's editors wrote an un-endorsement that amounted to dear God, vote anyone but Gingrich. Matt Drudge unleashed tons of anti-Newt oppo research. Top conservative pundits decried his attacks on Romney's business career as "socialist" -- some demanded an apology. But things have changed. Gingrich has fallen from the top of polls -- twice. His southern strategy failed when he came lost Alabama and Mississippi this week. Now Newt is just putting on a good show. 

He's taken to sounding like a misunderstood actress in an Esquire interview, telling supporters that he'd taken a three-and-a-half-hour nap on Southern Super Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal's Ryan Tracy reports. He told a group of supporters, "In my mind, every day's cool... I'm still here." The Washington Examiner's Charlie Spiering tallied all of Gingrich's latest moments lacking self-awareness  and wonders whether the candidate is "losing his grip on reality." (Sample: “Our political system is so methodically and deliberately stupid.” Also: "Other than Ronald Reagan, I know of no Republican in my lifetime who's been able to talk like this ... that's why I'm still running, because the gap is so huge.")

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National Review's Robert Costa reports that on the night of Gingrich's huge loss on his home turf, he was serene. "He never discussed dropping out, not even a whisper," a campaign staffer told him. Costa reports Gingrich has an interesting fantasy of how he could win:

Gingrich is committed to staying in the race until the convention, according to his advisers. He believes that there will be chaos within the party come August, and that — with a bit of luck, a clever floor strategy, and a powerful speech — he could build a winning coalition...

Gingrich frequently cites as his inspiration Ronald Reagan’s 1976 bid, when the Californian challenged President Gerald Ford. But unlike then, he believes, today Republicans will coalesce around an insurgent this summer. He does not expect them to back a moderate, especially one who lacks Ford’s incumbent advantage.

When Gingrich's campaign floated the idea of Rick Perry as his vice-president, the American Spectator's Robert Stacy McCain found it amusingly pathetic:

While I haven't bothered to check with my own 'sources close to the Gingrich campaign,' this suggestion had the distinct aroma of a substance one might find on the plains of Texas in the vicinity of a herd of longhorn cattle. Carl Cameron is too smart of a reporter to believe such a steaming pile of nonsense, and so my guess is that Carl was just sharing it with Fox News viewers in order to give them a glimpse of how truly desperate "sources close to the Gingrich campaign" have become.

Back in January, McCain took Gingrich serious enough to rebut his tying of Mitt Romney to Goldman Sachs and George Soros, and to condemn Sarah Palin for signing onto them. Hot Air's Ed Morrissey writes that "no one wants to tell Gingrich to his face to withdraw" but if he loses a bunch of primary votes over the next week or so, "no one should have to tell Gingrich that it’s time to leave." It was blogged more in sadness than in anger. Gingrich has lost his ability to get a rise out of these guys -- he's a defanged troll.

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