A topic of a lot of conversation today is Newt Gingrich’s future. Yes, he waited too late to drop out of the presidential race – way after he was a relevant candidate with a shot at winning. But he always marches to his own tune, even if that tune is scratchy and off-key, which it sometime is.

I for one marveled at his belief that he could actually win the GOP nomination – someone with his baggage, his history of imperial overreach, and sometimes cloudy judgment. You have to hand it to him though, he doesn’t think small, he things big. But that’s often the problem. A moon colony Mr. Speaker?

So now that he has finally acknowledged reality (a rare event), what does the future hold for him? We’ll find out how serious he is about helping Mitt Romney defeat President Obama. If he is committed to actually helping, Mr. Gingrich could be of significant help in reaching out to conservatives in in key swing states on behalf of Romney. The GOP base will have to show up in large numbers on Nov. 6 if Romney has a shot at winning. He could also help GOP congressional candidates in some key races and help the party raise money. Many will question Newt’s commitment though. He’s not known for going out of his way to help others. But if it smooths his own road back to redemption, it certainly makes sense for him to be very visible this summer and fall. A major prime time speech at the convention in Tampa is not out of the question. It will have to be on the Romney campaign’s terms, however.

If Newt does play a role in helping Romney win in November – still an iffy proposition – then he could be a potent force in Washington again. If Romney falters, or if Newt recedes into the shadows this fall, then it could be much harder for him.

He could always go back to TV. His days at Fox are over of course, but it seems the welcome mat is out for him at CNN. He will no doubt hit the lecture circuit and write books.

I have a hard time seeing him playing a formal role in a Romney Administration. He doesn’t play well with others. He would be the loosest of loose cannons. He would make a terrible vice president and a terrible Cabinet member. But he could be very useful as an elder statesman/philosopher king. I could see him, for example, heading up a Romney White House panel on taxes, or health care, or something similar.

We’ll see. Newt wants to be relevant. He needs to be needed. He’s always been able to be part of the national conversation, and I’m betting that doesn’t change.