Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have withered from being Mitt Romney's legitimate competitors into mere "hecklers," Politico's Jonathan Martin writes. The scenarios by which they could win the Republican nomination are becoming more and more "far-fetched," their rhetoric becoming more desperate. The Atlantic Wire would like to take this image one step further, naming them then Statler and Waldorf of the Republican presidential primary -- guys that never get to be the main characters, instead serving as a tool to lower the self-esteem of those Muppets who do.
A quick scan of Monday's headlines shows how far these guys have fallen. As we noted earlier this month, the most ominous sign a presidential candidate is about to quit is a headline noting that the candidate vows to fight on. (It would not be news that Romney indicates he will continue campaigning, see?) Newt and Rick are both facing those headlines. "Gingrich Is Soldiering On, Despite Dearth of Victories," The New York Times says Monday. "Santorum Ignores Pressure to Bow Out to Romney," reads another Times headline. "Could Pennsylvania End Santorum's Political Career Twice?" National Journal wonders. "The Sad End of the Gingrich Campaign," Walter Shapiro writes for The New Republic. Politico's James Hohmann links to a spat between Gingrich and President Obama adviser David Plouffe with the headline "NEWT DEATH WATCH, DAY 13."