ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, May 2, 2012, LifeSiteNews.com) – Newt Gingrich bowed to the inevitable this afternoon, telling a gathering of supporters at a northern Virginia hotel he was suspending his presidential campaign.

In a 23-minute address, Gingrich vowed he would remain politically active, as he had since 1958. “Today I am suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship,”  he said.

The former House Speaker promised to spend his days in the private sector highlighting issues like religious liberty, American exceptionalism, energy independence, health care freedom, workfare, national security, and space exploration.

Flanked by grandchildren Maggie and Robert, Gingrich said the campaign had been “truly a wild ride.”

He bolted into the Republican primary’s volatile lead twice, once before the Iowa caucuses, then again after a series of strong debate performances that culminated with him winning the South Carolina primary.

During the primaries, Gingrich ripped Barack Obama for voting “in favor of legalizing” infanticide in the Illinois state senate, suggested more strenuous regulation of in vitro fertilization clinics, and regularly faulted the “elite” media for its skewed coverage of conservatives.

“Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry?” he asked in one debate. “The bigotry question goes both ways and there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side, and none of it gets covered by the media.”

He created a problem for himself with his pro-life base by telling ABC’s Jake Tapper he believed life began at implantation, only to reverse himself and say it began at conception.

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His rival Mitt Romney spent $14 million on negative ads in Florida alone, and tens of millions more nationwide, much of it aimed at squashing Gingrich’s candidacy. By Super Tuesday, the author of 1994’s “Contract with America” won only his home state of Georgia.

The negative campaigning embittered Gingrich, who resisted calls to drop out of the race for months, arguing that he and Rick Santorum could amass enough delegates to deny Romney the nomination at the Republican convention in August.

But Gingrich said he had to reassess his campaign after losing Delaware last week.

He leaves the race $4.3 million in debt, even after casino industry exec Sheldon Adelson kept the campaign kept afloat by pumping in $16 million to Newt’s Winning Our Future super PAC.

Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond verified that representatives of the Gingrich and Romney campaigns had struck an agreement for Newt to act as a campaign surrogate in return for access to Romney’s fundraising circles. 

However, Gingrich left the campaign Wednesday afternoon without endorsing Romney outright. Instead, he said Romney was “conservative enough…compared to Barack Obama.”

“This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan,” he said. “This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in American history.”