Gingrich Expected to Suspend Campaign, Back Romney

BY Terence Burlij  April 25, 2012 at 1:21 PM EDT

Newt Gingrich; Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Newt Gingrich’s only primary victories came in South Carolina and in his old home state of Georgia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his presidential campaign next Tuesday and throw his support behind Mitt Romney, according to officials in his campaign.

“Newt is committed to helping the party stop Barack Obama’s second term,” Gingrich aide R.C. Hammond told the Associated Press. “He will do everything he can to make sure that happens.”

The development comes a day after Mitt Romney swept contests in five states, including Delaware, where Gingrich had actively campaigned in recent weeks. Gingrich had said earlier in the week that he would “reassess” his candidacy depending on Tuesday’s results.

At a stop Wednesday morning outside Charlotte, N.C., Gingrich hinted the writing was on the wall. “You have to at some point be honest about what’s happening in the real world as opposed to what you would like to have happened,” said the former Georgia congressman.

“Gov. Romney had a very good day [Tuesday]. You have to give him some credit. He’s worked for six years. He put together a big machine,” he added. “I think I would obviously be a better candidate.”

The rise and fall of Gingrich’s campaign was symbolic of the tumultuous GOP nominating process this cycle, which saw a number of candidates surge to the front of the field before fading just as rapidly.

Gingrich’s campaign nearly imploded last summer during his first month as a candidate: He referred to the House GOP budget as “right-wing social engineering”; was confronted by revelations that he and his wife Callista had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at high-end jeweler Tiffany’s; took a nearly two-week luxury cruise to the Greek isles; and had most of his staff resign en masse.

But in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses Gingrich surged, in large part due to his fiery debate performances, seizing the lead in the polls by mid-November and staying there for about a month. He was unable to sustain that momentum under fierce attacks from his rivals and ultimately placed fourth at the caucuses, behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Gingrich made yet another comeback in late January, winning the South Carolina primary, but was unable to overcome Romney’s financial advantage on the Florida airwaves, getting outspent five-to-one.

He struggled to find support after that, winning only one more contest, the primary in his home state of Georgia.

Gingrich entered the 2012 race with a reputation for being the leading “ideas man” in the GOP, having engineered the party’s takeover of Congress in the 1994 election. Unlike Santorum, a fellow long-shot candidate who emerged with his reputation enhanced by the process, Gingrich may have damaged his brand by holding on long after his chance at the nomination closed.