His almost certainly failed campaign for the Republican nomination leaves his stature diminished -- and his empire in shambles.
LANCASTER, Penn. -- Newt Gingrich has gotten noticeably fatter over the course of his campaign. His belly bulged onto his lap as he sat on a yellow couch in the basement of a Lancaster, Penn., Marriott one recent night; he had fastened only one of the two buttons on his black suit jacket, and even it appeared to be straining. In this sense, and perhaps this sense only, Gingrich has not been diminished by his ongoing quest for the presidency.
In all other ways, however, Gingrich is a man reduced. And it is not at all clear he will ever be able to get back the many things he has lost.
These days, Gingrich attracts more attention for having been bitten by a zoo penguin than for a policy proposal, even a totally outlandish one. Recently, at the convention of the National Rifle Association, he proposed an international treaty to make the right to bear arms a universal human right; the nation shrugged, if it even noticed.
Gingrich barely even rated a mention in the program for the Tuesday night dinner of the Republican Committee of Lancaster County, a conservative community in the heart of Southeastern Pennsylvania's Amish country. The program's cover image: "Featured Guest Gov. Mitt Romney." Inside, there was a full-page bio of Romney; Gingrich's name appeared only as a line in the agenda -- last, save for the presentation of gifts and live auction -- and in paid advertisements taken out by local politicians.