The candidates for the GOP's presidential nomination this year may tell you it ain't over till it's over. But unfortunately for Mitt Romney, he's facing a couple of rivals who may never pack it in -- at least till the very moment he gets those 1,144 delegates needed to sew up the nomination. If they give up even then.
Some folks don't know when to quit. Georgia's Newt Gingrich is still hanging around, and Ron Paul is back there lurking. (Some museum of 19th century American political history is missing an artifact.)
Here's the latest from our News of Newt department: He's charging fans 50 bucks to have their picture taken with him at campaign events. If that's not the sign of a presidential campaign that's become just another Moment With a Former Celebrity, what is?
The Newt is well on his way to becoming the Don Ho of presidential politics. And he doesn't even strum a ukulele. He just offers to pose with the tourists.
They say one picture is worth a thousand words. Having your picture taken with Newt Gingrich isn't even worth a thousand dollars. Or a hundred. Let's not even get into the question of why anyone not related to the man would want to do that. Mysteries abound in life.
Gingrich does seem to have enough money left to keep his spinmeisters on the payroll. One of them told the Los Angeles Times that charging 50 bucks a photo "is really a way to showcase the grassroots strength of his shoestring campaign."
Exit stage right. Far right. And don't hurry back.
The great Gingrich bandwagon hasn't moved an inch in months. Except maybe backward.
Before he bowed out, Rick Santorum said that, instead of electing Mitt Romney, the country might as well stay with President Obama.
Then he said his comment was taken out of context. It would be interesting, if not very convincing, to know just what possible context could justify such a remark from a GOP presidential candidate.
A few days later, he said Romney would be "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama." (He seems to have overlooked Ron Paul, but so does everybody else by now.)
Then he said his comment was taken out of context -- again.
The next day, he said he'd consider being Romney's running mate in the fall. Presumably in the second, not first, spot on the ticket. Would he really do that after all he said about the front-walker?
"Of course," was his answer.
And we believe him.
Stranger things have happened. In 1960, Lyndon Johnson agreed to run for vice president on the same ticket as that brash, inexperienced, spoiled rich man's son from Massachusetts he'd been running down for a year. And even more improbably, they won.
In 1980, George H.W. Bush wound up understudying Ronald Reagan after describing The Gipper's plan to get America moving again as voodoo economics. It's all par for the political course.
Does the silly season get sillier as it winds down? Or does it just seem that way? This year's merciful end will come as a relief. Jay Leno only has an hour every night to rib the GOP candidates, and they weren't all that funny to begin with.
The folks running the Romney campaign may want to wrap up this thing soonest, but a nigh-endless primary didn't seem to hurt a candidate named Barack Obama in 2008. It may even have helped him. By the time the general election rolled around that November, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was old news. Imagine if his anti-American broadsides from the pulpit had made the news in October instead of March.
The conventional wisdom, which is always more conventional than wisdom, held that a long primary season was supposed to hurt the Republican nominee this year. It may only have prepared him.