Gingrich bows to the inevitable and quits presidential race

Thu, May 3, 2012, 01:00

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – Newt Gingrich ended his tumultuous run for US president yesterday after dazzling in televised debates but winning only two of the dozens of nominating contests in the Republican primary race.

The former House of Representatives speaker, the face of the Republican party in the mid-1990s, badly trailed front-runner Mitt Romney in polls and his campaign fell into debt of $4.3 million.

Mr Gingrich dropped his White House bid at a news conference in Arlington, Virginia, although he had not been campaigning properly for weeks after plunging in polls and cutting staff.

Mr Gingrich briefly led the Republican pack before the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, but he fell victim to a new force in American politics: the independent “Super PACs” or political action committees that have no limits on how much money they can raise or spend in support of candidates.

Though Mr Gingrich had the support of one Super PAC, a pro-Romney group spent millions in negative ads attacking Mr Gingrich as a Washington insider, which ended up taking its toll.

Mr Gingrich won primaries in South Carolina and his home state of Georgia this year but failed to make a mark in larger states such as Florida and Ohio.

Mr Gingrich’s run turned ideas like establishing a US moon colony and having schoolchildren work as janitors into front-page fodder.

His campaign descended into near farce last month when he was bitten in the hand by a penguin during a visit to a zoo in St Louis.