ARLINGTON, Va. — Newt Gingrich brought his presidential campaign to an anticlimactic close Wednesday before several dozen family members, aides and supporters at a suburban Washington hotel.
Technically, Gingrich "suspended" his candidacy, allowing him to turn his attention to retiring a campaign debt of more than $3 million. The announcement wasn't news, however, since he had said last month that he would do so, after running out of excuses to continue his campaign. His second and last primary victory was almost two months ago, in his former home state of Georgia, and he has finished far back in most of the Republican voter tests.
"Today I'm suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich said. He and his wife, Callista, "owe it to America" to remain active politically, he said.
Gingrich, 68, said he would work to elect Republicans at all levels this fall.
"As to the presidency, I'm asked sometimes, is Mitt Romney 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.
It was unclear why the former House speaker chose to wait until Wednesday to deliver his remarks, nor did he explain. The campaign billed his swan song as a news conference but he took no questions after delivering a 22-minute statement, largely a rehash of his stump speech.
There had been speculation that Gingrich hoped to go out by appearing with Romney, the party's presumptive nominee, whom Gingrich has tacitly endorsed. Romney campaigned in a nearby northern Virginia town Wednesday, but his schedulers didn't make time for his onetime foe.