Republican candidate Newt Gingrich appears to have finally conceded defeat, all but officially ending his campaign in a speech to party members in North Carolina.
"You have to at some point be honest with what's happening in the real world, as opposed to what you'd like to have happened," Gingrich, whose campaign is $4.3 million in debt, said.
"Governor Romney had a very good day yesterday," he said.
"I think obviously that I would be a better candidate, but the objective fact is the voters didn't think that.
"And I also think it's very, very important that we be unified."
Gingrich's campaign was not always marked for its sympathy for what was happening in the real world.
As he lurched from defeat to defeat in primaries and caucuses around the nation Gingrich, who appeared to enjoy the trappings of candidacy, kept arriving at new explanations as to why he battled on.
For weeks longer than most political analysts he insisted he could beat the lead candidate, Mitt Romney, who yesterday claimed the nomination that is now almost certainly to be conferred upon him at the Republican convention in August.
When such a victory became mathematically impossible Gingrich explained that he and the other remaining candidate, Rick Santorum, could together prevent Romney from winning the 1144 delegates he needed to ensure victory.
He maintained this position to the frustration of the Santorum campaign, which saw Gingrich's presence as a drain on its attention and resources in the fight against Mr Romney.
When even those hopes faded Mr Gingrich claimed he was seeking to ensure conservative values remained central to the debate.
Holding just 137 delegates, and having antagonized much of his party, many believe the former House Speaker has blown any influence he had.
The Gingrich campaign was veered from populist to bizarre. In May last year when other candidates were building campaign machinery, Gingrich and his wife, Calista, went on a Greek island cruise, prompting the resignation of most of his staff.
Gingrich rebuilt his campaign by travelling commercially with his wife and dazzling audiences at candidate debates.
In December at one such debate Romney accused Gingrich of being a "career politician" (apparently not what Americans want in a president).
Gingrich hit back devastatingly. "The only reason you didn't become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994."
Gingrich was accused of having single donor – casino tsar Sheldon Adelson - and pursuing that donor's single concern, support for Israel.
At his campaign's high-water mark in December, Gingrich told Fox News, "I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community."
At the end of January he told an audience in Florida, where thousands have lost their jobs due to the ending of the Space Shuttle program, that by the end of his second term, "we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.
In November he called child Labour laws "truly stupid" and suggested poor children work in schools as janitors.
Over recent weeks the inordinate amount of time Gingrich has spent on private tours of zoos has attracted comment.
On April 13 he was bitten on the finger by a penguin during a quick trip to a zoo in St Louis he made before a speech to the local National Rifle Association.
- Sydney Morning Herald