The political comeback of Newt Gingrich ended in failure yesterday when he formally announced he was ending his bid for the US presidency.
The end came several weeks after the former House Speaker, best known for pursuing Bill Clinton over his his sexual indiscretions, had enjoyed any realistic prospect of winning the Republican nomination.
Thanking his supporters for their work in a campaign that finished more than $4m (€3m) in debt, Mr Gingrich pledged to fight for the conservative values and ideals which, on the campaign trail, he had often accused Mr Romney of failing to represent.
"The issues are the same," Mr Gingrich said in a video posted on his website with a plea for more donations. "We're still faced with a tremendous crisis of our country's future. The re-election of Barack Obama will be a genuine disaster."
During a chaotic campaign Mr Gingrich, not a man known for his false modesty, was unapologetic about his "grandiose" vision for America which included a permanently manned moon-base, a project he compared to Abraham Lincoln's trans-American railway and the Wright Brothers' vision of powered flight.
He is expected to support Mr Romney during this autumn's campaign, despite bitterness over the barrage of personal attacks that the Romney team flung at him during January's Florida primary.
Meanwhile in a blow to Mr Obama, the Taliban announced the start of its "spring offensive" yesterday, just hours after the US president promised to "finish the job" and end the war in Afghanistan on a flying visit to the country.
Suicide bombers killed at least seven people in Kabul, which the Taliban claimed it had organised in response to Mr Obama's surprise trip.
The attack on The Green Village in eastern Kabul, where many foreign contractors are housed, started just after 6.30am, when a suicide attacker rammed an explosives-laden car into the compound's exterior.
Reports said three militants managed to penetrate the outer rim of the compound, entering a laundry room, where they battled Afghan security forces and were eventually killed.
The attack claimed the lives of seven others including one guard at the camp, four Afghan civilians and two students on their way to class, according to the Kabul police chief, Ayub Salangi. Another 17 people were injured.
Mr Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and address American television viewers via video-link on the first anniversary of the killing of the former al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden.
In his address, Mr Obama said the agreement "set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year", ahead of the planned withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
In a statement posted on the group's website, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that yesterday's attack was "planned hurriedly after finding out about Mr Obama's 'surprise visit' to Afghanistan". However, analysts speculated that militants may have planned the attack for some time to mark the first anniversary of the raid that killed Bin Laden. (© Daily Telegraph, London)