(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.
Newt did the right thing to quit was able to gave good speech in his campaigns for the past couple months..
I know Stevo you are also very in favor for voter Surpression. Hows Salt Lake these days???
If Newt considers Obama the "most radical Prez. " in American History, it must be true, because we all know that Newt is stable & not prone to hyperbole.... And now, from the American Moon Colony,...
The bloated, buffoonish, bombastic, blowhard finally does what he should have done months ago. And agreed, Dom. Mama, he has left us with a wealth of zingers that can be appropriately lobbed at Romney with great effect in the months to come.
What an EGO!! He can't find it in his head much less his heart to endorse Romney. If he wishes to remain engaged as an active citizen.he needs to help defeat Obama.
Obama, the most leftist President in American History? ROFL Many of Obama's policies are in line with Reagan. ANYBODY is leftist compared to Nazi Newt and Calista with the snap-on hair.
What? You should have waited until after next Tuesday's primaries in IN, NC, and WV. You could have had all of the Anyone But Romney vote to yourself. Now it is just Ron Paul left in this campaign against Mitt. I really wnated to see just how badly you would get beaten in a head to head match.
Odd/funny since by all standards he's be out of the race for months!
There had to be some financial reason he stayed in the race a full week after he announced he would be quitting.
Why else make an announcement that you'll be ending your campaign in a week ... why not end it right then?
Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)
Bye Newt, and thanks for the treasure trove of ammunition you gave us to shoot Mittens out of the water in November.
Whatever helps you sleep at night. I think the American public is smart enough to figure out when someone is blowing smoke to distract from an abismal failure of policy
Does being an active citizen mean eating and cheating 'til the cows come home?
Another egotist wasting other peoples money.
Man...that is sad. I was so looking forward to the moon settlements at the end of his "SECOND term".
"Callista and I pledge to work with you and with every American who wants to create that better future."
Their first stop will be the Cayman Islands via the Switzerland Express. IF he gets all those lucrative speaking fee's he's anticipating. Otherwise it's just a trip to Tiffany's.
At last. An arrogant, egocentric, pompous man who really did not deserve to hold public office. Must admit it was fun looking at the man make a fool of himself. The fact that so few GOPers voted for him, lets me hope there is still a viable future somewhere for America.
Don't let the door hit you in the *ss on the way out.
Things are already better now that he admits he is a complete failure.
Any chance the Republicans had to defeat Obama were dashed by this idiot and his ego. After the election is over, the pundits can mull over how Gingrich defeated the Repubs, not Obama.
Newt once again proves he is slow to grasp the clue.
He should have stayed in and picked Palin as VP. Romney is not going to win anyway. It would have been a great 3 ring circus.
LMAO at "Good Man". He cheated on how many wives? Reprimanded by Congress and quit his Rep seat. "Great American"? Hardly
Newt now where we get our dirty politics humor, Regan years are long gone, and the only good he was, was he knew how to work the media (acting does that), see ya Newt, no go back beneath your rock and stay!!
Ron Paul. Only real choice
And now, Gingrich... will sell out to Mitt Romney, a man he once called a "MANIACAL LIAR" and endorse him for President. Disgraceful. Just when you thought Republican politics couldn't sink any lower, they find a new hole to fall into. Seriously, just disgusting. How do you endorse and support a man you beileve to be a LIAR... for President??!!
Thanks Grinchy, you were a blast. I personally wish you had stayed longer ... the convention isn't too far off after all. What drama, fireworks you would have given us. You know, I/we should really have contributed to your campaign.
Newt finally figured out he did not have a chance.
I guess this puts him a step or two ahead of Ron Paul.