Newt’s very bad night

The ugly Nevada result is bad enough, but the former House speaker may be losing his sugar daddy too

Topics: War Room,

Newt's very bad nightRepublican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign stop at the International Church of Las Vegas on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Credit: AP)

There was never any real suspense over which candidate would win the Nevada Republican caucuses. Mitt Romney racked up a landslide win in the state four years ago, and he wasn’t even the GOP front-runner back then. The state is demographically suited to him — about a quarter of the GOP caucus electorate is Mormon, and Mormons have been supporting Romney’s campaign at roughly a 90 percent clip — and he’s put far more effort into it than any other candidate, except Ron Paul.

So for Newt Gingrich, there’s no shame per se in the fact that he was beaten by Romney on Saturday night. But that he was in danger of finishing behind Ron Paul is a problem for the former House speaker, whose main task for February — a month littered with Mitt-friendly contests — is to fare credibly enough to reassure voters in the Super Tuesday primaries of early March that the GOP contest is still a real two-man race between him and Romney.

The tallying of returns by the Nevada Republican Party was painfully slow (fewer than half of all precincts had been counted by midnight EST), but if Gingrich does lose out to Paul it will amplify a second Nevada story: Not only did Romney post a big, if entirely expected, victory, but Gingrich failed to meet even the modest expectations that were set for him — a result that will validate recent media stories that suggested the Gingrich campaign is in disarray and that will surely encourage more like them. And even if he does hold on for second, it was still Romney’s night.

Gingrich seems aware of how bad this all looks, and attempted to gain some control over the narrative with an unorthodox late-night press conference after the Nevada results were in. He repeated his vow to stay in the race, chalked up Romney’s win to Nevada’s status as a “heavily Mormon state,” talked about racking up delegates strategically, and emphasized the long game.



“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said.  I will be a candidate of the president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”

The idea, it seemed, was to lower the bar for the rest of February in an effort to avoid any more nights like this. Realistically, Gingrich’s won’t have a chance to start winning again until early and mid-March, when a number of Southern states will vote.

But two other Saturday night developments raise some very practical questions about Gingrich’s durability. The first is news that his campaign is $600,000 in debt, even after several months of strong fundraising. Far more ominous is a New York Times report that Sheldon Adelson, the 78-year-old casino magnate who has directed $10 million to a pro-Gingrich Super PAC since the Iowa caucuses, now recognizes that Romney is likely to win the nomination and has signaled his willingness to ultimately back him. According to the Times:

Several people who have spoken with Mr. Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the [Super PAC] as long as Mr. Gingrich remained in the race. But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Mr. Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Mr. Romney’s favor.

The Times story indicated that Romney and his team have been intently courting Adelson behind the scenes, hoping to convince him that Romney is just as reliable as Gingrich on Adelson’s top issue, Israel. (Here it may be worth recalling Romney’s stern reply to a Palestinian-American questioner at a recent Republican debate, in which he channeled the pro-Likud hawkishness that animates Adelson’s Middle East politics.) Ultimately, this may be the biggest story to come out of Saturday night. It’s hard enough to see Gingrich bouncing back now, and if his chief patron turns off the spigot…

Steve Kornacki

Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at SKornacki@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornacki

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>