Has Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich given up hope?

Newt Gingrich Image copyright AP
Image caption Newt Gingrich spoke on Wednesday evening at the Republican event

Listening to Newt Gingrich at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, I fast came to the conclusion that he's given up all hope of becoming the Republican candidate for president.

Don't get me wrong. He wasn't downbeat or glum. He didn't bomb. Far from it. His speech went down a storm at the event. He was funny and biting, deftly mixing high principle with low invective.

But he sounded much more like a campaign manager selling a strategy than a man trying to become president.

Not once did he say: "When I am in the White House…".

But he did talk a lot about how the Republican campaign should be run. He said it could be a "magic moment" for America. It should be philosophical, about freedom and American exceptionalism, but also set out clear choices. It should combine principles and practical proposals. He said it could be the most educational, serious campaign since the election of 1860. That's the one that preceded the Civil War, by the way.

He offered up five tax cuts (abolishing death duties went down particularly well with the aging audience) and four examples of getting rid of red tape, including scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency.

He was particularly keen on saying that 2012 should be a "team campaign". Rather ironic given that his own team left him. But his statement presumably means he wants a job, if not the top one. Having lost his entire campaign staff because he wanted to run his own strategy, he now seems to be offering his skills to the other candidates.