ARLINGTON, Va. — Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich boldly declaimed his policy agenda in a hotel conference room packed with some 100 reporters, family members and curious office workers. You would hardly have known he was here to call it quits.
Like a roller-coaster junkie on the best ride in the country, Gingrich wouldn’t get off the ride when it stopped, waiting until security forced him out of the amusement park at dusk.
“I’m going to argue for a romantic American future,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich couldn’t quite bring himself to endorse Mitt Romney. Press secretary R.C. Hammond, whose contentious relationship with the press was extensively chronicled during the campaign, said Gingrich didn’t want to leave any doubt about fracturing the party.
“He didn’t want to be Santorum. That’s why we made it clear we would endorse Romney,” Hammond told BuzzFeed. But the best Gingrich could manage during his final 23 minutes of in the spotlight, was that Romney was more conservative than Barack Obama.
About a dozen workers from the building next door showed up, “because the end of a presidential campaign is historic,” one employee told a Patch reporter hungry for a local angle.
Later, she turned to a co-worker and said “actually, it’s just me killing time.”
The scene was different from Gingrich’s early campaign events, filled with senior citizens who remember the glory days of his speakership. Instead, he gave the same speech to a group of tired reporters and ruthless cable television and Twitter pundits.
“Callista and I pledge to work with you and with every American who wants to create a better future,” he said, drawing his speech to a close with a line more reminiscent of an announcement than the sunset of the campaign.
Ever the self-described "grandiose" candidate, Gingrich reaffirmed his commitment to building a lunar colony, advancing brain research, and reaffirming religious liberty — acknowledging they were jokes on shows like Saturday Night Live, but remained unwilling to back down.
“I am not totally certain that I will get to the moon colony,” Gingrich said, adding he believes his grandchildren will get the chance.
Asked by reporters if Gingrich wasn’t ending his campaign to leave open hope for a miracle at the convention, Hammond said he’d be remiss as a spokesman if he said his boss didn’t hold out a small hope.
Gingrich's campaign was, at its best, a romantic venture. He danced with Callista in a Jackson, Miss. hotel. He ate at Galatoire's in New Orleans. He visited eight zoos.
Gingrich was the candidate who couldn’t let go — a romantic to the end.