Update: 11:52 am EST: Reports from Fox News, The Washington Post, Politico, and others are saying that Newt Gingrich will suspend his campaign next Tuesday. Politico's Ginger Gibson reports that "Gingrich is waiting until Tuesday to allow family and staff who are currently spread around the country time to travel to D.C. to participate in the announcement."
Update 10:54 a.m. EST: CNN has word that Gingrich will officially end his campaign in a Washington, D.C. event on Tuesday, after which he will start figuring out how best to support Romney. Interestingly, that's not necessarily framed as an endorsement. Per CNN's Mark Preston:
"When he says he is transitioning, what he means is that he is trying to determine as a citizen how he will pro-actively help Mitt Romney become president and the Republican Party win back the Senate and help (House Speaker) John Boehner keep his majority in the House," said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Update 10:47 a.m. EST: It's worth remembering that Gingrich has been hinting at an end to his campaign for a few days now. On Monday, he told NBC News, "I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing," and said he would "reassess" his campaign depending on how things turned out in Delaware, a winner-take-all primary. Of course, Romney won there handily, also picking up Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Update 10:40 a.m. EST: Gingrich actually referred to Romney as "the nominee" at a breakfast in North Carolina Wednesday morning, according to MSNBC: "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."
The Fox report says he's going to stay on the trail through this week and make his pass through the South "something of a goodbye tour," while giving family, friends, and supporters time to travel and hear him drop out in person. He'll
Update (10:22 a.m. EDT): Newt has apparently received the RNC's message: Fox News reports that Gingrich is planning to drop out of the race next Tuesday, according to senior aides, and that he'll "most likely" endorse Romney. Fox reported
Original: It's safe to say Newt Gingrich can let go of whatever illusions he's still clinging to now that the Republican National Committee has declared Mitt Romney the party's presumptive nominee, first reported by Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post's Fix. According to The New York TImes' Michael D. Shear, "officials at the committee said that it became clear — if not technically official — that Mr. Romney would be the nominee after he swept five large primaries Tuesday night." And the statement RNC chairman Reince Priebus has been sending around alludes to Romney's success as basically a given.
From The Fix:
“Governor Romney’s strong performance and delegate count at this stage of the primary process has made him our party’s presumptive nominee,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “In order to maximize our efforts I have directed my staff at the RNC to open lines of communication with the Romney campaign.”
But even though Gingrich will probably have to leave the race soon just to stay somewhat realistic, we wish he wouldn't go. He sure is fun to watch in a debate.