Newt Gingrich will be exiting the race next week.  Newt not only will endorse Mitt Romney for President, Newt will pledge to work without rest to defeat Obama.

Is there anyone Romney would rather have on his side than Newt?

Oh yes, Newt will go there so that Romney doesn’t have to.  Newt will speak the truth about Obama in language and with a clarity a nominee can’t in the age of the Obama-adoring mainstream media.

Before Newt turns to that other role, I wanted to thank Newt for his campaign, a campaign I endorsed on November 16.

Newt pursued that impossible dream with a joie de vivre rarely seen in a political candidate.

Was there anyone on the campaign trail who had more fun? Who spoke of what America can do in more glorious terms than Newt?  Who reminded us of what we once were and what we can be more poetically than Newt?

Newt started his climb to the top in the fall with a positive message, and a relentless refusal to attack other Republicans.

It was an improbable climb, and one which could not last for a variety of reasons.

Those who nurtured their decades-old grudges and sought to belittle Newt actually belittled themselves.  That so many of them to this day cannot resist getting in their parting shots is a sad commentary on their commentaries.  The Republican and conservative media Lilliputians managed to tie Newt down, but that did not make them giants.

Without Newt in the campaign there would have been no campaign.

I came to respect Governor Perry tremendously, but his campaign likelihood of success ended before it could begin.  Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and some others never were going to be the nominee, although they deserve credit for trying.  Rick Santorum made the most of it, but he was not a national figure of the stature of Newt or Romney.

Newt made the likelihood of defeating Barack Obama all the greater.  Newt and Newt alone forced Romney to become a better candidate, to stop hiding from the media, to hone his message — and yes, to perfect his ability to attack.

Would the Mitt Romney of November 2011 stand as good a chance of winning in November 2012 as the Mitt Romney of April 2012?

As Newt turns the page, he deserves our praise and thanks.  I hope that we as a party are big enough for that.

So thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Onward.