(CNN) – Newt Gingrich announced the suspension of his presidential campaign Wednesday in Virginia, a little less than a year after the former House speaker officially launched his White House bid.
"Today I am suspending the campaign but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship. Callista and I are committed to being active citizens," Gingrich said at an event in Arlington. "Now we're going to put down the roles of candidate and candidate's spouse and take up the role of active citizens."
Gingrich thanked his supporters, chronicled his life in public service, vowed to continue fighting for his policy ideas and expressed support for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
News of his impending departure from the race first broke last week amid falling poll numbers, significant campaign debt, disappointing fundraising figures and a string of electoral losses.
The Gingrich and Romney campaigns have spoken consistently since Gingrich signaled he would pull out of the race this week.
In his speech Wednesday, Gingrich stressed the importance of defeating President Barack Obama in the November general election.
"I'm often asked if Romney is conservative enough and my answer is simple, 'compared to Barack Obama?' You know 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 American history."
Gingrich's spokesman R.C. Hammond said the former Georgia representative would spend most of the summer and fall on the campaign trail stumping for candidates.
Gingrich was left for political dead last year after his top campaign advisers quit but experienced a resurgence in late 2011, due in part to a Republican electorate unsure about Romney, the GOP frontrunner.
However, he failed to win early election benchmarks, only capturing two early voting states, his native Georgia and South Carolina. Gingrich said he will "feel slightly guilty" every time he goes through South Carolina for breaking the state's tradition of voting for the eventual Republican presidential nominee since 1980.
Despite a string of election losses and armed with only 141 delegates, Gingrich continually vowed to stay in the race until the August convention in an effort to elevate his self-described "big ideas," including his American energy plan and broad education reforms.
On Wednesday, he vowed to continue working on behalf of "American exceptionalism" and said he and his wife would continue to campaign on behalf of American energy independence and health care reform while promoting mental health awareness and a country that is capable of combating global threats.
"With every great challenge, Americans have reinvented themselves and their country," Gingrich said. "Callista and I pledge to work with you and with every American who wants to create that better future."
His speech grew personal when he talked about his grandchildren, Maggie and Robert, who joined him on stage and often appeared with him at campaign events. He became emotional when he mentioned them, pausing for a few seconds before thanking them for being the “two best debate coaches.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Romney said Gingrich demonstrated "eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas" throughout his campaign.
"Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation," Romney said. "Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends and we look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead as we fight to restore America's promise."
Another former opponent, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, also responded to the news of Gingrich's decision, saying the former speaker ran a "spirited campaign."
"As he exits the race for the Republican nomination, I'd like to acknowledge my former colleague in the House Newt Gingrich for running a spirited campaign. In particular, I want to thank the former Speaker for echoing my calls for monetary policy reform including a full audit of the Federal Reserve, steps that will bring America closer to lasting economic prosperity for middle-class Americans who bear the brunt of the dangerous and unjust inflation tax," Paul, who remains in the race, said in a statement.
Also in a statement, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus congratulated Gingrich on his presidential run.
"Speaker Gingrich has been a tireless leader in our party for decades, and I know he will continue to be an outspoken advocate for conservative policies and Republican principles–not only in this election, but also for years to come," Priebus said.
Read more: Gingrich's 2012 campaign leaves him with mixed legacy
– CNN's Mark Preston, Kevin Bohn, Gabriella Schwarz and Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.
bye bye Grinchy
Although it was nice to have you as a comedy act.
In the words of the white socks comentator- HE GONE
"....You know 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 American history."
Newt Gingrich, you gave the voters a choice between the most corrupt Speaker of the House in history and Mitt Romney.
Thanks Newt, your a good man and great American, you contribution in smacking some sense into the system- ir greatly appreciated. Don't go far your still needed, great minds with keen and focuses intellects are hard to come by- and rarely make it into politics, that's why you needed. Now all we need is Obuma, to bow out.
Take your bag of hate and go back to your cave loser.
Bye Newt, and thanks for the treasure trove of ammunition you gave us to shoot Mittens out of the water in November.
He picked May Day 'cause he's a commie!
it's going, and going and going it's gone.
Thanks for letting us know again!
Guess we won't have Newt to kick around any more.
Just glad that all the time and money that was spent on him was from/for the GOP.
Boy, what happened to Newt's phony smile and Gal'lista didn't even wave. Maybe they're angry at someone or somebody for some reason and didn't want to smile or wave Good Bye.
What's Leno going to do for material now?
Well, I'll miss laughing at him. I mean, talk about an ego out of whack, that's him. The guy won only two state; two of the most racist states in the Union: One, his home state of Georgia; the other, South Carolina (need I say more?). Truly a man who loves his voice and his ideas. A self-proclaimed intellect whom no publicly-acclaimed intellect will embrace.
Gingrich you are an embarrassment to Americans everywhere
Hey newt, don't let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you!
OH NO – say it ain't so! Now who is going to stand against the Kenyan colonial mentality that is permeating our government and threatening our existence as a free and American society!?!? Bye bye, Mr. Angry White Guy.
hope you share with Mitt that secret of getting $2.50 a gallon gasoline. Plus I guess poor kids are safe now from being low paid janitors.
Sorry to see that the conservative poster boy for political ethics and family values is quitting. Maybe next time Newt.
ONE MORE GONE! Obama 2012!
OK Newt. Now get busy helping Romney get Obama OUT of the Whitehouse and getting people BACK into jobs.
Yes I will work directly with Bishop romney, The kochs & Karl to implement the most stringent voter supression laws ever. I cant wait till me & the Mittster see a disabled vet in a wheelchair & we say SORRY, no can do.Dont have proper I D Romney will stop at nothing to Cheat his way in Caus we all know thats his only shot. Dont think so huh? Not possible Huh?? How bout when the Romney supporter in New Hampshire which happend to be in charge said no more votes or the snowstorm hit, sorry cant vote late. Im tellin you America this Viscious Man that calls himself a Bishop will do whatever it takes to take Strip the voices from the Elderly on SS, the blacks, hispanics, the Poor, other minorities & yes even the DISABLED. Willard dont give a Damn. Every Journalist in the Country shoul be Hammering him face to face about this. The man is truely a Slimeball for Surpressing AMERICANS, after all I guess it would benefit CHINA.
I hear this old fool has changed his religious affiliation 4 times– what a deep guy, huh? A new religion for each wife.
He announced it 2 weeks ago hasn´t that lizard crawled back under his rock yet ? The only good thing about
his campaign was bringing to light what losers Mitt Romney and his never had a job in her life wife are !
I feel so lost now that Newt has finally dropped out.
Tomorrow will be another day !
CNN , could you please keep us informed regarding any joyful and heartwarming events that might take place in the days and months ahead regarding Newt !
He should have quoted the Republican he most resembles:
"But as I leave you I want you to know.... just think how much you're going to be missing. You don't have Nixon to kick around any more..."