Is it Time to Bid Adieu to Newt? Ron Paul?

Dwindling campaign coffers aren't slowing down Newt. He's just getting more creative.

No one can accuse Newt Gingrich of being a guy who follows conventional wisdom.

Most political observers thought his presidential bid was dead in the water when his team quit en masse in June 2011 because they thought he was more focused on his vacation cruise than the road to the White House. But he forged ahead when pundits asked why he was even bothering, roaring back onto the scene to temporarily become the GOP front-runner. While Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, hasn't led the Republican pack for some time, he's garnered enough votes and PAC money to keep going in fine Energizer Bunny style.

That is until now.

This week, Gingrich fired a third of his staff, is seriously cutting back efforts to woo more primary voters and is charging $50 per photo op at the events he is attending in an effort to shore up is dwindling coffers. (I guess Sheldon Adelson is done writing the big checks to Gingrich's Super PAC to keep his electoral fantasies alive.)

So that's great news for Mitt Romney, right? Not if Gingrich is successful at his next tactic -- contacting the Republican Convention delegates to persuade them to defect from Mitt. And, yes, he apparently can do that.

In many states, a portion of the delegates aren't awarded based on the winner of the primary or caucus. And the party faithful who lead the delegations often aren't bound to their state's winner, either. While Gingrich probably can't get 1,144 delegates to jump to Team Newt to make him th nominee, he might just find enough who are dissatisfied with Romney and willing to switch allegiance just to keep the former Massachusetts governor from being the party's nominee.

Where do Ron Paul and Rick Santorum figure into all of this? Well, any attack on Romney by Gingrich can only be good news for Santorum as the candidate who's the political version of the Little Engine That Could. But the Pennsylvania primary is coming up in a couple of weeks, and last time the voters from the Keystone State were asked by ballot how they felt about Santorum, he lost by 18 points.

As for Paul, there's no way for him to win, but as I've said before, he doesn't care -- his presence promotes his political agenda, and that of his son, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, and that seems to be enough for him. With the Maryland primary set for Tuesday, April 3, Paul is headed to the University of Maryland, where he's got a grassroots army working for him.

Who knew that this year's Republican contest for the presidential nomination would feature more twists and turns than than a John Le Carre novel?

You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

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