Newt Gingrich, shown at a primary night gathering in Concord, N.C., reportedly… (John W. Adkisson / Getty…)
Newt Gingrich will suspend his presidential campaign on Tuesday, according to multiple media outlets, and Rick Santorum will meet with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney three days later, tying up loose ends as Republicans unite behind Romney for the general election campaign against President Obama.
Romney’s status as the inevitable nominee has not been in question for weeks, but his sweep of five Northeast primaries on Tuesday night prompted the Republican National Committee to announce on Wednesday that it has launched a “merger” between its operation and the Romney campaign.
"He is our presumptive nominee. That means he is our guy," RNC chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday morning. "It's beyond an endorsement. It is a complete merger wherein the RNC is putting all of its resources and energy behind Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States."
Photos: The search for Romney's running mate
Gingrich and Santorum spent months savaging Romney as a moderate and a weak standard-bearer for the GOP, but their tone has shifted dramatically over the last 24 hours.
“I do think it's pretty clear that Gov. Romney is ultimately going to be the nominee and we'll do everything we can to make sure that he is, in fact, effective, and that we as a team are effective both in winning this fall and then, frankly, in governing," Gingrich said Wednesday morning at a diner in North Carolina, according to NBC News.
Romney’s sweep on Tuesday night was precisely the scenario that Gingrich’s aides said would prompt the candidate to reassess his campaign. While Gingrich plans to continue his campaign schedule in the state through Friday, it has taken on the tone of a farewell tour.
Santorum, meanwhile, declined to offer an explicit endorsement Tuesday night, but made it clear he would back Romney during a television interview Tuesday night.
“You can call it whatever you want,” Santorum told Piers Morgan in an interview on CNN. “It’s very clear he’s going to be the Republican nominee, and I’m going to be for the
Republican nominee and we’re going to do everything we can to defeat Barack Obama.”
Priebus said the formal moves to coordinate the operations of the RNC and Romney campaigns marks an important turning point in the campaign.
“We will ensure that our finance, political and communications teams are fully synchronized,” Priebus said. “I am excited that these two top-notch operations will start to integrate and present a unified team to defeat Barack Obama.”
Original source: Gingrich to suspend campaign as GOP unites behind Romney