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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Newt Gingrich; Ames, Iowa; and Rick Perry. What It All Means.

Had you tuned in to my radio show two nights ago, you would have heard me tell the world that Newt Gingrich’s campaign was disintegrating. Had you jumped over to RedState yesterday at noon for my Presidential horserace post, you’d have seen again that sources were telling me Newt’s campaign was in complete meltdown and I did not expect him to survive.

Well, you’d have heard it here first, but whether you heard it here or elsewhere, by now you know Newt Gingrich’s campaign is dead. The national staff left en masse and the Iowa staff is gone. They all quit.

Newt Gingrich wrote on Facebook that he is still in the race and will relaunch in Los Angeles on Monday. My only theory is that he is relying on a team of Hollywood special effects guys to build him a team of animatronic campaign staffers.

Many of us admire Newt Gingrich’s intellect, but even while Speaker of the House, Newt had a reputation as uncontrollable and undisciplined. While the press may say the implosion of his campaign has to do with his staff’s loyalty to Rick Perry, I believe the real answer is that Newt too frequently went off message, did not engage, and most likely has not taken the steps necessary to build a campaign war chest of both money and critical allies. And no staffer seeing this would want to wait around for a later more obvious candidate led implosion that makes the innocent staff look culpable.

I’m sure the Mediterranean cruise was one of the last straws.

With Newt in, but his national staff fleeing, there is massive speculation tonight that Texas Governor Rick Perry is going to get into the race.

In other news, Governor Mitt Romney, who won the Ames Straw Poll in 2008, has decided not to participate in the Ames, Iowa straw poll this year. That weekend just so happens to be the weekend of the RedState Gathering in Charleston, S.C. Coincidence? Well, yeah, but . . . .

Anyway, what do these three events mean? Well, I’ll tell you.Right now, I think the Gingrich implosion and the Romney departure from the Ames Straw Poll both help Tim Pawlenty. In fact, we’re seeing the fruit of this already. Newt Gingrich’s Co-Chairman, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, has jumped ship to Tim Pawlenty. I hear others will too.

Likewise, Romney out in Ames leaves Pawlenty as the biggest name. It should, however, be noted that Romney won the Ames Straw Poll in 2008 and wound up losing the state. But a Pawlenty win would give him strong buzz.

All that said, if Rick Perry winds up getting into the race, it will do several things.

First, it guarantees that Sarah Palin will not run for President. I have it from sources close to both Governors that Palin will not run if Perry runs.

Second, it rocks Tim Pawlenty’s world hard. I think a Rick Perry candidacy fundamentally hurts Tim Pawlenty’s effort to be the conservative in the race. Likewise, Pawlenty cannot match Perry’s gubernatorial record, though to be fair that has as much to do with governing Minnesota instead of Texas as it does with them being different people.

Third, Perry’s entry would buy Mitt Romney time in the lead. Time is the one campaign commodity that cannot be added to. Every day Mitt Romney leads is a day it becomes increasingly likely Romney is the nominee. If Perry gets in, odds increase that Romney, not Perry, is the nominee.

Fourth, Rick Perry’s entry into the Presidential race probably opens up the Texas Senate race even more. Lt. Governor Dewhurst would probably calculate he stands a better chance of taking over the Governor’s office on the cheap than spending big on a Senate seat.

A Perry candidacy throws the whole race into chaos. It’ll actually be wonderful to watch. I said a few weeks ago I thought Rick Perry needed to run. I would say so again now more than ever. His record in Texas on jobs presents a compelling alternative to Barack Obama whether Perry is the ultimate nominee or not.

If Perry does not get in, Tim Pawlenty just had a very, very good week.

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