It’s an ancient habit in politics (and for that matter, business) to confront signs of imminent defeat and disaster by denying anything at all is wrong or could interrupt the inexorable march to final success. We’re seeing a lot of this trait from Newt Gingrich as his day of reckoning with Florida voters arrives. Today he’s saying he’ll stay in the race for “six or eight months.” That schedule would carry him at a minimum well beyond the final primary in Utah (June 26). The eight-month timetable, of course, extends into the general election season. At this rate, when the dust settles tomorrow, Gingrich will be announcing his 2016 re-election campaign.

I’m reminded of an imaginary candidate (named Otto “Slim” Mace) conjured up by Hunter Thompson in Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail ’72 who had just been nailed in a major ethics scandal and was being abandoned by his staff and donors. Naturally, he called a press conference to predict “total victory in all states.” So Newt’s tough talk today could mean absolutely nothing.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.