(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.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul keeps winning caucus states and pulling Romney's official count down... huh. No media on that one.
Sorry, no moon base in the next 4 years form Obama...
Obama isn't even the most radical leftist President in the last 50 years, let alone all of American history. More radical leftists....Lincoln, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, LBJ and Truman. It's easier to find radically conservative Presidents than radically liberal ones.
After his record of dishonesty the Republicans listened to him as a serious candidate! Christian values are like the rest of their "pretend" ideology – good for sound bites but not to be taken seriously. The real GOP motto should be "Fooling the Stupid to Help the Rich, White, and the Greedy!".
@ David in FL
I couldn't agree with you more about the American public being smart enough to figure out when someone is blowing smoke to cover dismal public failure........which is more than likey why Barrack Obama constantly led in the polls over mostly all the so-called 2012ers and leads Romney in a majority of all the catagories at the moment. Only trails with undereducated white males over age 52 but that reason really needs not to be discussed as to why.
Speaker Gingrich, thank you. You set the pace early and kept the debates clean and strong. Your views are known now, which is more than we know about Obama's or Romney's. Rhetoric was not your style compared to relating those views. Good job.
Newt Gingrich bowing out now is like your ex calling you 3 months after your break up to tell you that she's over you
Newt.. please go away FOREVER. Call me because I have a long antique hat pin you can borrow to prick your ego... In fact although it's an antique I'll give it to you if you'll just go away FOREVER.
Obama and the Dems have Newt to thank for all the juicy things he said about Romney during the primaries. We'll be seeing Newt in more than a few campaign ads.
Why did CNN (and other US networks) give this guy so much uninterrupted air time during the primetime lunch hour for his "I'm quitting" speech?
Quite frankly, given the debt his campaign is in, they should have put out a one page memo to supporters, instead of yet another campaign stop that they can't afford,.
I wonder if any of the vendors (caterers, stage hands etc) are going to get paid for helping to stage this? Unlikely.
Newt, you railed against Obama for his "excessive deficits" but you couldn't even keep your campaign on track over a six month period, and Bachmann couldn't keep hers on track for a lot less time than that.
It appears that GOP candidates can't stay living within their political means, either.
So long Newt. Your ignorance will NOT be missed.
Gingrich is a despicable human being. Period. Next.
gingrich loses $4,000,000 on his campaign says he will just steal it back from taxpayers...
This Wisconsin Voter is glad to see the Grinch OUT of the race.....he never really was IN! He is so into himself......and that Barbie doll beside him......Guess he and Romney, those rich people who don't care about the middle class, can figure out how to THINK they can defeat our President.....it ain't happenin' folks! Obama/Biden 2012 Barrett/ this year.....get Walker OUT too!
Took you long enough. You have been milking this dropping out thing for a couple weeks. Now that you're "officially" out, go back home and be quiet. And tell you wife to stop using so much hair spray. We have enough environmental problems already without her contribution.
Newt? You mean he was still campaining? Wow! I thought he had bowed out long time ago. Haven't heard anything about him in the news in ages.
He should not even consider being a front man for this country. He is nothing short than a version of hitler I don't think any of the republicans stand a chance against Obama . It will clearly be a shit out in November !!!!!!!
Thank you Newt for your 54 years of public service. Shame on you for departing with words of division instead of words of unity.
Good bye Newt, you were dead from the get go.
I respect Newt's decision to withdraw from the race. I honestly hope that Newt along with Limbaugh can go from being the most hated of men to somehow regaining some sort of human dignity in the future.
Is he reading notes to talk about his family?
Nancy Pelosi said, "Newt Gingrich can never become president of the United States." SHE WAS RIGHT!
Well now that you have told us for days that he is officially bowing out, can you stop wasting electrons on the guy already?! Jeeez.
Now it's a tight race between Romney and Ron Paul. Sadly this will be R.P.'s last presidential chase, so he better win the nomination. He's soooo close.
Now if Romney would just drop then Ron Paul would get all those additional votes, Mr. Romney can't win anyway. He won't be able to pull enough of the middle block to beat Obama.And since Ron paul can, he would easily win. People need to understand that the Executive seat is alot different than the legislative and can really enhance certain types of neccesary actions, and at least we would know that the President we elected was their to try to do whats best for the largest possible group of people rather than one side or the other, and to help effect changes that are very important to the long term success of our Country.The mild fascist and the mild communists should always find themselves wanting in a Constitutional Republic. Stay in it Ron Paul. You sir have those who are true patriots voting for you.No amount of misinformation will ever change those facts.