Speaking Wednesday afternoon at an Arlington hotel, the former House speaker formally departed the GOP primary race in much the manner in which he ran his campaign: discursive, chaotic and utterly devoid of self-control.
For 23 desultory minutes in an overheating conference room, Gingrich took the 150 campaign workers and reporters present on a stream-of-consciousness tour of the Newtonian Mind. He spoke, in no particular order, of Capt. John Smith in 1607, mining asteroids, his novels about George Washington, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Ellis the Elephant, the Strait of Hormuz, Alzheimer’s disease, Chinese bondholders, Todd Palin, electromagnetic pulses, radical Islamists, C-SPAN, his high school years, Nixon, Carter, Reagan (both Ronald and Michael), the civil service, the Civil War, autism, holograms, the Soviet Union, nanoscale science, the Federalist Papers and Herman Cain.
He had little to say about the one thing people in the room cared about most — whether he would endorse Mitt Romney, the man Gingrich had dubbed a liar and a fake. Gingrich was tepid. “You know, this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan,” he said. “This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in American history.”
Gingrich, who enjoys dinosaur fossils and zoos, chose instead to tell his captive audience about his pet projects. “I’m cheerfully going to take back up the issue of space,” he proclaimed. With his wife, Callista, in her usual place at his side, her mauve jacket perfectly matching her nail polish, he acknowledged that she was correct in telling him that his proposal for a moon colony “was probably not my most clever comment in this campaign. I thought, frankly, in my role of providing material for ‘Saturday Night Live,’ it was helpful.”