Woe to Newt Gingrich.

The former House speaker’s justification for remaining in the Republican presidential race had been hanging by a thread for the better part of the month, and that string finally snapped Tuesday night.

Gingrich’s campaign — if not Newton Leroy Gingrich himself — had proclaimed after his Super Tuesday win in Georgia that victories in Alabama and Mississippi were necessary for him to stay in the contest. “Everything between Spartanburg [S.C.] all the way to Texas, those all need to go for Gingrich,”said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond.

Well, that didn’t happen. Gingrich finished behind former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) in both Southern states on Tuesday.

Never one to bow to defeat, Gingrich found a silver lining in the gathering clouds.

“One of the things tonight proved is that the elite media’s effort to convince the nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” Gingrich said, adding that he and Santorum got a combined two-thirds of the vote in Alabama and Mississippi.

Of course, second place is the first loser. And in Gingrich’s case, it seems clear that his inability to overtake Santorum as the preferred conservative alternative to Romney on what should have been very friendly territory signals that his campaign has lost its reason to be.

Gingrich, unsurprisingly, appears undeterred by the stark reality now staring him in the face. In the wake of losing in the Deep South, he jetted off to a full slate of campaign events in Illinois, which will hold its primary Tuesday.

No matter what he does going forward, however, he can can’t go back and find a few thousand more votes in Alabama and Mississippi.

Newt Gingrich, for only placing when you needed to win, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at

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