Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stands next to his wife, Callista, as he drops out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination while in Arlington, Virginia, May 2, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/LARRY DOWNING
He suspended his tumultuous bid to be the Republican presidential candidate Wednesday in Arlington, Va., but vowed to stay active in public life.
"Today I am suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship. Callista and I are committed to be active citizens. We owe it to America, and we owe it to," our grandchildren, he said. "We're now going to put down the role of candidate and candidate spouse, and take back up the roles of active citizens."
Among the ideas Gingrich said he'll keep pushing for: energy security, religious liberty, national security and yes, even his infamous moon colony.
"My wife has pointed out to me approximately 219 times ... that the moon colony was probably not the most clever comment in this campaign. I thought, frankly, that my role providing material for Saturday Night Live was helpful," he joked. "This is not a trivial area. The fundamental question is whether we're still a country that dreams and that goes out to pursue adventure."
While Gingrich was getting no love from primary voters -- he won just two states -- he also suffered financial woes.
His campaign drowned in over $4 million in debt through the end of March and reports suggest he was spending wildly in recent weeks in an bid to keep his sinking campaign alive. Many former staffers and companies are now reportedly worried they will never get paid.
One of Mitt Romney's harshest critics during the primary process, Gingrich vowed Wednesday to do whatever he can to defeat President Barack Obama in November's election, but stopped short of fully embracing Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee.
"This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in history," Gingrich said. "People often ask me if Mitt Romney is conservative enough, and I say 'compared to Barack Obama?'"
In a statement issued after Gingrich's announcement, Romney praised Gingrich for bringing "creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life," and showing "both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas."
With Gingrich out, Ron Paul remains Romney's only rival for the Republican nomination, but Paul has yet to win any contest and cannot win the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the party's nomination.