Newt Gingrich will suspend his bid for the Republican presidential nomination next week, NBC News confirmed Wednesday, a day after Mitt Romney added to his commanding lead in the race with primary wins in five states.
After a four-hour meeting Tuesday night, Gingrich decided to end his run on May 1, NBC reported, citing a senior campaign source. The date was chosen for logistical reasons so his family can come up to the area, NBC said.
There is a "high likelihood" he will endorse the GOP nominee then, as well, NBC said.
After watching Romney sweep five Republican presidential primaries Tuesday, Gingrich said his campaign was making a transition. Speaking at a civic club in suburban Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday morning, Gingrich did not formally withdraw from the race but said he was now campaigning as a "citizen," The Associated Press reported.
He did not explain what he meant. He did say that he expects Romney will be the GOP nominee and called on the party to unite behind the former Massachusetts governor.
On Monday, he told NBC: "I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing."
Gingrich, who rose to be the most powerful Republican in the United States during his leadership of the House in the 1990s, finished first in two of the 36 states that have voted in the 2012 presidential contests.
The onetime front-runner has been largely out of media glare in recent weeks. His biggest headline came after an encounter with a biting penguin at the St. Louis Zoo left Gingrich with a bandaged finger.
In December, the former speaker led in the polls in Iowa, the first state to hold a nominating contest. But after a barrage of ads from Restore Our Future that cast Gingrich as a Washington insider with questionable ethics, he plummeted to a fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.
Gingrich's campaign regrouped and captured South Carolina on Jan. 21, but then was hit again by the pro-Romney group's attack ads before the next major primary, in Florida.
The former speaker's campaign has not recovered from that assault, and has been unable to keep raising enough money to cover its expenses. Last week's campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission showed $4.3 million in debt.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.