Newt Gingrich to endorse Mitt Romney

In an interview with USA Today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that he will endorse former rival Mitt Romney after he formally suspends his own candidacy, and will actively campaign for Romney.  Gingrich also said Romney would help him retire his campaign debt.

There had been some speculation that Gingrich might hesitate to endorse Romney, given the often bitter tone of the campaign.  However, Gingrich offered Romney some hard-won respect in his USA Today interview:

“Mitt Romney met the first criteria of being a good candidate: He won,” Gingrich said. “Now, you have to respect that.” He added, “We sure didn’t give it to him. We did everything we could to slug it out with him, and he ended up being tough enough and being good enough at raising money” to prevail.

Gingrich ends his campaign, after a stint as front-runner, with only two states under his belt, South Carolina and Georgia.  He also has $4.3 million in campaign debt.  He said that he doesn’t see himself running another presidential race, as he believes Romney will win both the 2012 contest and re-election in 2016, and Gingrich would be 76 years old in 2020.

The formal conclusion of the Gingrich campaign is scheduled for Wednesday, while his formal endorsement of Mitt Romney will come at a joint appearance within the next few weeks.