(CBS News) As he prepares to bow out of the presidential race, Newt Gingrich met yesterday with Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades to discuss what role Gingrich would play going forward, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting.
The meeting, at Gingrich's offices in Arlington, had been in the works for nearly two weeks, as the former House Speaker was weighing how and when he would exit the race. Sources said Gingrich wants to play an active role in the election, and also is looking for help to retire some of his $4 million campaign debt.
That would of course be beneficial to both sides. Romney could turn a bitter adversary into a supporter - and one who could be valuable in rallying the troops in the South. Gingrich could restore his image in the party while digging his campaign out of a financial hole.Complete coverage: Election 2012
Although Gingrich had been bitterly opposed to Romney (and the campaign tactics devised by Rhoades, et al.), the sources said he had now accepted that Romney is going to be the nominee and was "on board" and positive about assisting in his election effort, which would focus on fundraising. In that role, Gingrich also could raise money that would go to repaying his campaign.
A source close to Gingrich said it was a "good meeting," and that the Romney campaign wanted to integrate Gingrich into the surrogate system.
That source said Gingrich also made some big picture policy suggestions, and stressed the campaign must focus early on building support in Latino, Asian and African American communities, or "else we will not win."
Leading up to the meeting, Gingrich had a couple conversations with Romney adviser Ed Gillespie to get a sense of what the campaign was thinking, the other source said. Those conversations were described as "positive" by both sides.