- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Newt Gingrich will officially pull the plug on his presidential bid Wednesday, marking the end of a roller-coaster candidacy that dove into and out of debt — and into and out of contention during the bloody Republican nomination race.

In a hat tip to supporters, the Georgia Republican released an “insider advance notice” online video Tuesday, in which he thanked them for their support and urged them to do all they can to stop President Obama from winning a second term in the November election.

“A re-election of Barack Obama will be a genuine disaster, and all of us have an obligation, I think, to do everything we can to defeat Barack Obama,” Mr. Gingrich said, vowing that he and his wife, Callista, will continue campaigning to defeat Mr. Obama. “I hope you will join us in this historic effort, because this is still the most important election in our lifetime.”

Mr. Gingrich is set to “officially” bow out of the race at event Wednesday afternoon at the Hilton Arlington in the Washington suburb’s Ballston neighborhood.

“Expect Newt to speak to the important role citizens can play in stopping a second Obama term and helping Mitt Romney and the Republican Party build a governing coalition in Washington and state capitals across the country,” said R.C. Hammond, campaign spokesman.

Mr. Gingrich provided political fodder for late-night comedians and created headaches for his Republican rivals. He split the conservative vote in many contests with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and forced Mr. Romney and pro-Romney super PACs to spend carloads of money on negative attack ads aimed at undercutting Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy.

“What Newt did was clear the field for Romney,” said John Feehery, a GOP strategist. “He took up so much space and so much attention that other candidates could never really catch on as the ‘anti-Romney.’ Newt also single-handedly revitalized the idea of creating a space colony on the moon, so he’s got that going for him.”

The 68-year-old fell under immediately scrutiny after entering the race in May for having carried upwards of $500,000 in debt to Tiffany’s jewelry company. Then his entire senior campaign staff resigned in June, and campaign-finance reports filed in July showed he carried more than $1 million in debt.

By November, though, Mr. Gingrich had climbed to the top of the polls and was confidently predicting he would be the party’s nominee. But he finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses and had another disappointing showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Then he reshaped the race overnight with a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary. Mr. Romney, though, dismantled him with a barrage of negative campaign ads in the ensuing Florida primary, while Mr. Gingrich also hurt his odds of winning in vowing to build the “first permanent base on the moon” by the end of his second term.

With the exception of a win in his home state of Georgia, Mr. Gingrich’s stock plummeted from there, and now his campaign is millions of dollars in debt.