(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.
Who cares about the blonde with the waxed hair and plastic face.
IF (repeat "if) someone is actually savvy about campaign financing...not just "ah bygawd know" please explain if "suspending " a campaign still allows the candidate to raise funds and possibly spend them ? Some I know say if you "quit" or "drop out" you can't , but if you suspend all you do is "not campaign"...you can still shear the sheep. Thoughts?
why is ron paul not mentioned?
So Newt "chronicled his life in public service." I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that he did NOT chronicle how he was shamed out of his House Speakership by his own political party. Nor did he chronicle the hefty fine he was ordered to pay for ethics violations.
No one likes a quitter. I
Good bye whacked out teabag moon colony Tiffany's Republican.....yikes!
Who genuinely cares? This man has been a political liability for decades and he should have faded away a very long time ago. It would however have been fun to watch him run against our current President. Nah, now that I think about it there would be more sport in having a junkyard dog run!
Yawwnnn. This should have happened like back in March after Super Tuesday.
Staying around and sucking up all that secret service protection must have done wonders for his ego.
"We all know Romney won't quit until he's lost in this November."
In December he will be insisting that Obama cheated.
This bowing out story is getting old. It's like the recurring Bush endorses Romney stories. How many times is it going to happen?
To the moon with you, Gangrene – Please just shut up and go away already!
! Newt Gingrich is the best debate coach that Mitt Romney could ask for. Watch out you liberals, GOP's gonna take this election :)
Go away moron, we don't want see u, hear from u ever
"...the most radical leftist President in American history." If you repeat a lie often enough (and with enough money behind it) unfortunately a lot of people will believe it. From day-one, the Republicans set out, not to be the loyal opposition, but to destroy Obama. No lie is too big to accomplish this task–and it doesn't matter what the cost to the country is. I'm 70 years old, an independent, and I've never seen anything like the vitriol. The Republicans used to get a big share of my vote, but no longer. Every day they seem to reach a new low.
Last time I checked, there are TWO Republicans still in the race. Why is only one mentioned and quoted?
BTW, how is Ron Paul doing? Is he still in the race? How did he do in WASHINGTON or MISSOURI or SOUTH DAKOTA or MAINE? Anyone? I can't seem to find the article on CNN anywhere....
Does anyone know the actual delegate count or is CNN still counting the unbound delegates as "Romney Supporters?"
Does anyone agree that CNN is pushing for Romney because they know O'bama beats Romney in every general election poll since 2009? Why doesn't CNN post the Rasmussen poll that shows RON PAUL beating BARACK O'BAMA in a Rasmussen poll dated April 4-12-2012? But that's just conspiracy theory, right??
I'd love to engage Romney supporters in this debate, but since this is a "Newt" article, all are welcome. God bless.
Veterans for Ron Paul
Is that what is wrong with Romney.
When he started crying over the death of Osama bin Laden I was afraid he had been bonked on the head like a Kandahar Marine.
His campaign must have developd breast cancer. COUNT IT!
Newt's campaign has been fading out for the past few months anyways.
Now if we can get Mitt to bow out we can save us all time, money and a few laughs
Gingrich was such a joker.
what happend to claims staying till Miami, just a few days ago ? These clowns are what makes politicians uncredible; they say anything for political miles, knowing very well in their heart that those are lies.
I tried to listen, but he just droned on and on. Someone needed a hook to pull him off the stage. Seriously, the runner-up should know when to shut up. But here is a hint to help retire your debt: Do the responsible thing. You and Calista can scrub toilets abd have the dignity of earning your own way.
If Newt Gingrich thinks President Obama is the most "radical leftist president in American history," he must be to the far right of Benito Mussolini.
The mother of all narcissists is finally exiting. unbelievable ego!
He left the race months ago, but failed to notice. Go riddance gramps.