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On good-bye tour, Gingrich touts ability to be Romney surrogate

MOORESVILLE, NC -- Even though his presidential campaign "will go bye-bye," Newt Gingrich on Thursday said he and his wife plan to campaign through the fall to help presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.

"I'm going to look at how I can be helpful, because I suspect people will still show up to hear me," Gingrich told voters at luncheon here. "Callista and I are going to campaign through October."

Though today, just 25 people attended the midday event here, leaving a roomful of empty chairs. Some of those seats were taken by Secret Service, an area the campaign has taken heat for recently because of the thousands of dollars the protection was costing taxpayers, even Gingrich he had become more of a sideshow than serious contender for the GOP nomination.

After losing the Deleware primary on Tuesday, the latest in a long string of electoral defeats, the former Speaker of the House acknowledged he will end his campaign next week. He will continue with his packed schedule through North Carolina, saying he felt an obligation to fulfill previous commitments here.

"The campaign will go bye-bye, but I'll be a citizen," Gingrich told a supporter asking about the candidate's future. "I've been an active citizen since I was 15."

The once top-tier GOP candidate said he would welcome the opportunity to stump for former rival Romney. He has spoken to the former Massachusetts governor and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus about playing a role in the party going forward. At a stop at a diner here this morning, Gingrich continued his pledge to forge ahead to the summer convention in Tampa -- only now, as a citizen and not a candidate.

"We're also going to go back to the private sector to earn some money," Gingrich said. "It's been a long, expensive 2 years."

Gingrich's now-bare-bones campaign faces deep debts; he had previously been a paid contributor to FOX News, but criticized his former employer, saying he could get a fairer shake from CNN; and his flagship company, The Gingrich Group, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year.

"I ran for president and, candidly, wished I had done better," Gingrich said Thursday morning. "But I learned a lot."

And while the former frontrunner says he's eager to help, it likely will not be on the Romney ticket. "I think the vice president will be somebody much younger," Gingrich said. "That would be my advice to Romney."