It wasn't supposed to end like this.
I jumped on the Newt for President bandwagon back in August of 2006 -- and never stepped off it.
I started ramping up this election cycle in November and December of 2010, blogging about him and connecting with other Newt supporters whether here, Facebook, or Twitter.
My first contact with the campaign was soon after Newt's Meet the Press interview in which his comments about the Ryan Budget were taken out of context. I asked R.C. Hammond, the press secretary, how I could help out. He soon e-mailed me Adam Waldeck's number.
The next day, I called Waldeck, at the time the campaign's Coalitions Director and who, within months, would be dispatched to South Carolina to head up Newt 2012 there.
I've been asked how I came to be on the campaign by a few reporters -- and they are always shocked when I tell them I wanted to join at one of the lowest points. Nothing had changed in my mind -- Newt was the best candidate in 20 years and second best in 80 years -- and I was determined as hell to get him elected.
There were plenty of anxious times over the summer, of course -- and whether Adam knew it or not, he helped keep my spirits up by always having a nugget of good news.
Or, on the morning of June 10 -- the day after a lot of the staff quit -- he was able to somehow make me laugh by e-mailing something to the effect of, "I'm still here." Newt was going to have a conference call with tea party and 912 leaders across the country later that day, and Adam was letting me know about it.
My girlfriend was having to watch her nephew and his step-sister that day, so I ended up listening to the call -- still bewildered from the day before -- in one of the few quiet places in the house: the stairwell.
I've mentioned it plenty of times, but July 15 was my first trip to Iowa. I've linked to it many times -- and will again here and here -- because it will always be one of my favorite weekends. And no work-related weekend will ever top it.
At the end of the month, communications director Joe DeSantis e-mailed me asking if I would help out on the @Newt2012HQ Twitter account. I would try to answer any questions supporters or others might have as well as post content if no one else was around a computer or otherwise able to.
August 11 was the beginning of Newt's surge. It was the Ames Debate, and Newt was on fire -- taking down Chris Wallace especially. It also was the first debate that I helped out on the campaign's Twitter account, re-tweeting positive tweets that either I found or Dan Kotman and others found and sent to me. For each debate after, save one, that is how we did it.
The next memorable date I can remember is September 13. That was the day Allen Olson, the Columbia Tea Party leader, endorsed Newt. Awesome news! Later that month, Judson Phillips, a national tea party leader, followed suit.
The next couple of months featured more and more terrific debate performances.
Then came the peak of the surge. Newt soared to the top of the polls in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida; he was closer than any candidate had been or would end up being in New Hampshire.
The Manchester Union-Leader endorsed him.
Walking into the Polk County (Iowa) GOP dinner on December 1st -- just a month before Iowans would caucus -- Newt was riding high. It may have been the high point of the campaign, with victory night in South Carolina the other possibility.
What I remember most about that weekend was when I first encountered Newt on the trip. He was sitting down being interviewed by Simon Conway, a big Iowa radio talk show host, and upon seeing me, Newt -- the front-runner for the GOP nomination while in a very important interview -- gives me a sly wink and doesn't miss a beat.
The time at the top was short-lived, of course. Romney's money men distorted and outright lied about Newt's record, leading to fourth place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
But on the back of two more outstanding debate performances and Sarah Palin's unofficial endorsement -- plus yeoman's work by Waldeck -- Newt won South Carolina on January 21st.
Eight days before Florida was to vote, Newt was up by a good margin. But once again, Romney pelted Newt was lying ads -- with assists from Santorum -- and Newt lost the state.
Who knows how things would have been different if Newt, instead of playing a calm figure in the first Florida debate and trying to look the frontrunner and more Presidential, had come out swinging. Chances are that the barrage of despicable ads would have been too much in any case.
I have plenty of awesome memories from the campaign -- and, as I'll write about tomorrow, it acted as a great therapist during some hard personal times -- and because of how great Newt would be as President, I will never regret all the work I put into it. It was a blast, and I'll never experience another campaign like it.
But it was, and will always be, the biggest disappointment in my life. Had Newt made it, this country could have been turned around so fast.
But now, the choice is Obama -- ugh -- or Romney, who, while better than Obama, is better in the same way that one broken leg is better than two.
(Update: Robert Costa of National Review, one of the best political journalists and someone who was very fair to Newt throughout the campaign, linked to my piece, tweeting "A Newt loyalist/activist reflects--a fun read"