A few days ago, I spent the day on Newt Gingrich's press bus, following him from town to town in Georgia as he campaigned before Republican supporters.
Georgia is Newt's original home base -- it's the one state he should win in this race on Super Tuesday, no matter what. He's been spending the bulk of his campaigning time here and the latest polls show it's paying off -- he leads Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum at 38% in the latest poll, compared to their 24% each.
But as you'll see in our exclusive CafeMom video after the jump, Newt is quite different from the man we interviewed just a few months ago in Iowa.The campaign trail has clearly taken a toll.
Check out the video and see the effect for yourself -- then tell me in the comments whether you think Newt's days in the race are numbered.
As you can see, Newt was suffering from obvious campaign trail fatigue, which isn't exactly surprising. The 15-hour day was rough for me, in my 30s -- I can't imagine what it's like to endure this kind of schedule nearly every day of the week at the age of 68.
Beyond the fatigue, though, Newt seemed to have lost the "Newtmentum" that was in evidence during our CafeMom Coffee Break with him a few months ago. He was lackluster and somewhat unfocused before his audiences, and was prone to rambling during his speeches. Speaking at West Georgia College that night, he began with a bizarre, 10-minute anecdote about trying to remove a tree from a friend's yard. Consequently, a noticeable number of students wandered away from the event before he finished speaking.
As for his campaign, the $2.50-a-gallon gas shtick, introduced the day I was on the trail, seemed like a desperate last ditch effort to get some media attention, and maybe a few extra votes. There also was an attempt by the campaign that day to introduce the phrase "Newtamania" to the masses. Clearly (and thankfully), that didn't catch on.
Pundits are beginning to wonder aloud when he'll throw in the towel, and I'm sure his campaign aides are asking that same question. But despite evidence to the contrary, Newt pledged yesterday that he plans to stay in the race, telling ABC's This Week, "This is going to go on for a good while."
What do you think? Will Newt drop out soon? Should he?