After winning just two states in the long GOP presidential primary race, Newt Gingrich finally called it quits on Wednesday, announcing that he would suspend his campaign.
"But suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich said before supporters in Arlington, Va., explaining that putting the race behind him now lets him return to finding conservative solutions to the nation's challenges in other ways. Among the laundry list of issues that he pledged to educate fellow citizens about in the coming months and years are American history, religious liberty, energy independence, private Social Security savings accounts, a "post-Obamacare health care system" and radical Islam.
It almost appeared as if he would skip over that whole push for moon colonies, but he defended his pet project, although even he acknowledged that it wasn't the best moment of his campaign. "The fact is, if we're going to be the leading country in the world, we have to be the leading country in space," he said.
Despite Gingrich's harsh attacks against Mitt Romney on the campaign trail — accusing him of using his massive super PAC to buy the election, not being a true conservative and being a corrupt businessman — he still used the moment to lend his support to Romney. Praise for his former opponent was faint, however, framed in this not-so-enthusiastic context: At least he's better than Obama.
"This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan; this is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in American history," he said in his tepid endorsement, saying that on issues of judge appointments and the economy, he'd rather have Romney in the White House than Obama.
Gingrich also slightly downplayed the importance of the presidency itself, drawing more attention to the need to elect Republicans as governors and mayors, and in Congress and state legislatures around the country. "The presidency matters, but so do all the other offices of self-governance," he said. "If you're truly going to have a wave of change in America, that wave has to happen in many places simultaneously."
On that note, Gingrich called on conservative voters to get to work. "A Republican sweep this fall would revitalize America just as the Reagan sweep of 1980 revitalized America," he vowed. "We have done it before. We can do it again."
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's senior political correspondent.