Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich probably stayed in the race for the Republican presidential nomination a bit too long.
His campaign stands more than $4 million in debt, his outside enterprises crumbled while he was on the campaign trail, and he won only two of more than 40 primary contests and was falling behind even Rep. Ron Paul in the latter days. But of all the foes former Gov. Mitt Romney vanquished on his way to becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, he could have the most impact going forward.
Gingrich has said he is eager to return to the campaign trail—not as a candidate but as a surrogate for Romney. That's why Romney and the Republican National Committee "have offered to be helpful" in retiring his campaign debt. They know he is a powerful speaker with a bevy of ideas and a loyal following who could help Romney break through with constituencies where the candidate doesn't currently have a strong foothold.
But there is little question the former speaker is one of the best messengers on the right and one of the best in public life at boiling down complex policy questions to palatable Kool-Aid that average Americans can understand and rally around.
So don't be surprised if Newton Leroy Gingrich takes a few weeks to get himself tanned and rested—and then, when he's ready, hits the campaign trail hard and makes a big difference in how voters view Romney, President Obama, and the choices and visions of America they represent.
Surrogate, floater of big ideas, attack dog … these are not the roles Gingrich wanted to play in this campaign. But they probably are the roles that suit him best.