Newt Gingrich Ends Presidential Campaign

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, share a moment before announcing the suspension of his presidential campaign in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The winner of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary has gone on to win his party's nomination in every election since 1980 — until now.

Just less than a year after entering the race, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) ended his presidential campaign today, a week after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney claimed the mantle of the GOP's presumptive nominee.

“Today I am suspending the campaign," Gingrich said at a news conference in Arlington, Va. "But suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship.”

Gingrich thanked his family, supporters in Georgia and South Carolina, his former opponents Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who helped keep Gingrich afloat by funding a super PAC that ran ads supporting his campaign.

Despite a contentious Republican primary season, Gingrich implied he would support Romney's campaign in an effort to defeat President Barack Obama.

"I’m asked sometimes is Mitt Romney conservative enough," Gingrich said. "And my answer is simple: Compared to Barack Obama? This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan."

Gingrich won two states, South Carolina and Georgia, and 137 delegates. His poll numbers, stagnant for much of 2011, began to spike in November but fell back to earth before the Iowa caucuses, in which he finished fourth. He finished fourth again in New Hampshire before winning South Carolina.