This just arrived from my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy in Washington:
You could almost hear Tammy Wynette playing in the background as Newt Gingrich’s backers among Georgia’s House Republicans stood by their man and his Lost Cause on Wednesday.
Never mind the endorsement that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gave Mitt Romney a day earlier.
In interviews off the floor of the House, Marietta’s Phil Gingrey, Coweta County’s Lynn Westmoreland and Tifton’s Austin Scott declined to declare the Republican presidential primary finished in the aftermath of Rick Santorum’s exit from the race last week.
Not that any of them gave Gingrich much chance of success. The backing was more due to the precious notion of loyalty for a man who once represented the state in Congress. Gov. Nathan Deal said much the same thing on Tuesday.
“I’m very enthused about the 99.9 percent likelihood that our nominee will be Mitt Romney,” said Gingrey, whose district covers much of Gingrich’s old territory. “But I can’t in good conscience pull my support that I’ve committed to until Newt says, ‘I’m not in the race anymore.’”
Gingrey noted that Gingrich had sought advice from his small band of congressional backers — which also includes Roswell Rep. Tom Price and Savannah Rep. Jack Kingston — during a Capitol Hill meeting last month.
Gingrey that acknowledged that Gingrich has virtually no hope of success, and that his continued presence could have an impact on Romney’s general election campaign. It “leaves us in that kind of a bind, but I understand from his perspective,” Gingrey said.
Scott said he could support Romney, but “those of us who are conservative still want to see commitments on how we’re going to balance the budget and other things.” Scott reiterated that as long as Gingrich is in the race, he will continue to support him.
Westmoreland said Gingrich can continue to get a unique anti-Obama message out, and pointed out that remaining in the race gives the former U.S. House speaker a higher profile and more opportunities for television appearances.
As for his own approach to Gingrich, Westmoreland channeled Wynette: “My man’s still in the race, and I’m going to stick with my man. I just think once you get with somebody, you need to stick with him.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider