Will we see a 'Newt for Mitt' sign?
May 18th, 2012
11:21 AM ET
6 years ago

Will we see a 'Newt for Mitt' sign?

(CNN) - At Georgia's GOP convention this weekend, Newt Gingrich will begin boosting support for Mitt Romney, the same man the former House speaker vehemently campaigned against just months ago.

While Romney won't share the stage with Gingrich this time around, the two are scheduled to campaign together later this month in Las Vegas, a Romney campaign aide confirmed.

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Gingrich first said he would stump for Romney when he suspended his presidential campaign in early May, though he offered only lukewarm praise for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee at the time.

"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 said in his departure speech.

He stepped up his endorsement days later, however, telling CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that Romney had earned his position as the Republican challenger likely to go up against the president this fall.

"I believe that Mitt Romney will be a dramatically better president than Barack Obama," Gingrich said on CNN's "State of the Union.' "I believe he has earned the right to represent the Republican Party, and he has earned it the hard way."

Gingrich's appearance in Georgia could be useful for Romney's campaign, as the former candidate hails from the Peach State and served as one of its representatives in the House prior to becoming speaker.

His popularity proved further evident when he won the states primary on Super Tuesday, March 6. It was one of only two states that Gingrich carried during the Republican primary season, and he won it with a wide margin over Romney, 47%-26%.

In the following weeks, however, Gingrich failed to capture any more contests, while Romney continued to add to his delegate haul and tried to shore up the conservative vote from rival Rick Santorum.

Gingrich, despite significant fundraising lulls and mounting debt, repeatedly vowed to stay in the race until the August convention and use his national platform to promote what he called his "big ideas," including his American energy plan and broad education reforms.

While he endorsed Romney the same day he dropped out of the race, his tepid nod called to mind the bitter battle between the two candidates during the height of Gingrich's campaign.

Gingrich in January had jumped ahead in the polls to take a surprise primary victory in South Carolina, a state whose popular governor had actively campaigned for Romney. In a stream of vicious attacks against Romney, Gingrich hit his opponent as a "Massachusetts moderate" and painted him as a flip-flopper.

A pro-Gingrich super PAC also aggressively went after Romney over his corporate history at the private equity firm Bain Capital, foreshadowing attacks Democrats now use against the likely GOP nominee.

Less than two weeks after South Carolina, however, Romney and a super PAC supporting his candidacy unleashed a river of negative ads against Gingrich ahead of Florida's primary. Romney won the state's contest, essentially killing Gingrich's short-lived surge.

Santorum soon stole the baton and became the next closest threat in the race to stall Romney's front-runner momentum, leaving Gingrich fighting for his political survival. The former speaker added only one more win-Georgia-to his mantle prior to dropping out in May.

When Gingrich announced his campaign suspension, Romney responded in a statement saying he was "proud" to consider Gingrich a friend, signaling Romney would court Gingrich's support in the general election.

"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."

And while Gingrich's support has thus far been all but fervent, it still marks a stark contrast to that of Santorum, who backed Romney weeks after dropping out of the race. His endorsement came at the bottom of a late-night email to supporters.

Gingrich will make appearances at the Georgia state convention Friday night and Saturday, the latter of which is billed as a speech to drum up support for Romney. Since ending his run, Gingrich has not campaigned alongside the presumptive GOP nominee–and that does not change this weekend, as Romney will be in New Hampshire.

But is Gingrich eying a running mate spot in return for the favor?

The former candidate has consistently shot down such speculation, as have several other veep contenders. In a recent round of Sunday morning television interviews, Gingrich even laughed off the idea.

"I mean I am so much my own agent, it's inconceivable," he said on CBS.

- CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney to start airing first general election campaign ad Friday

Third party effort packs it in for 2012

Conservative group hits the road in Wisconsin

Filed under: 2012 • Georgia • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (10 Responses)

    Wolf Blitzer: Are you calling Mitt Romney a lair?
    Newt: Yes!

    May 18, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney and Ann are proud to help Newt and Callista profit so they will have money to cruise and shop at Tiffanys. Well, that's 2 jobs created by Romney for the rich.

    May 18, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Thomas

    They look so good together !

    May 18, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Michael

    Gingrich is a liar, a fraud and does not stand by his beliefs. He has stated on several occassions that Romney is not fit to be president. Now he's going to support him. No principles. Republiccans believe that anyone is better than Obama, even a monkey. Well, they're wrong. Bush wasn't better.

    May 18, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Gingrich doesn't support Romney any more than santorum does. They both see this as their chance for a VP slot.

    May 18, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. rs

    Really. Isn't it more likely a "Newt for Sale" sign? After all, Newt will do anything for a buck.

    May 18, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    "Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?" Newt answers "YES"! That is ALL I need to know about his support for Mitt and don't give me all that in the heat of the battle crap either.

    May 18, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    When is Mitt Romney going to start talking about the deficits that his own overspending will create? Better yet, when are the Democrats gong to start talking about the deficits that Mitt Romney's tax cuts and defense spending will create?

    May 18, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Kate

    Weasel-worded Willard learning to become as sleazy as Newt, Master of all Sleaze Balls.

    May 18, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |

    "Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?" Newt answers "YES"! That is ALL I need to know about his support for Mitt and don't give me all that in the heat of the battle crap either.

    May 18, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |