Michael D. Shear
and Jeff Zeleny

Newt Gingrich told Mitt Romney on Wednesday morning that he would suspend his presidential campaign next week and begin working to turn out conservative voters for Romney and Republican candidates in the fall election, Gingrich’s spokesman said in an interview.

Gingrich plans to officially endorse Romney’s candidacy after suspending his own efforts next week, said R.C. Hammond, the spokesman. Hammond said Romney was “cordial and respectful” during the call and that Gingrich said he was “committed to helping him in the fall.”

“A Republican turnout, especially among conservatives, is key to stopping an Obama second term,” Hammond said in an interview with the New York Times.

At an appearance in North Carolina, Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee and suggested that he would leave the race in the next several days.

“I think 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 said, according to a brief report in the National Journal.

Gingrich had repeatedly said he would press ahead to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer, where he hoped conservative delegates would give him — not Romney — the nomination.

Gingrich, a former House speaker, continued to sound that theme Tuesday night after Romney decisively won all five contests held Tuesday in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

But in North Carolina on Wednesday morning, Gingrich sounded more conciliatory and appeared ready to suggest that unity behind Romney’s candidacy was the most important consideration for Republicans.