(WASHINGTON) — Reports that Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich met secretly in New Orleans the day before the Louisiana primary were confirmed Thursday.
On Thursday in a radio interview, Romney seemed to play down the importance of the meeting between himself and Gingrich, saying that the meeting brought about “nothing new” or “exciting.”
A source close to the Gingrich campaign, which earlier this week scaled back and laid off staffers, confirmed the meeting happened early Friday morning at around 6:30 a.m. at Romney’s hotel in the French Quarter district of New Orleans. Gingrich was staying at a hotel about 30 minutes away from Romney’s hotel and met with him before heading to the southern part of Louisiana to campaign in Port Fourchon.
Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told ABC News that he was not the source of other reports that the two candidates had met; however, “Newt does speak to Santorum and Romney on a regular basis.”
Romney is the clear front-runner in the Republican race and holds a commanding delegate lead. Gingrich has stayed in the race even though he could never maintain spurts of momentum heading into the Iowa caucus and after a big win in South Carolina. Any sort of agreement between the men would be a turn of events. Gingrich has blamed negative advertising both from the Romney campaign and a super PAC that supports Romney for hurting his candidacy. Still, Gingrich has pledged to take his candidacy to the Republican candidacy in Tampa, Florida, later this year. Gingrich has finished fourth in 13 of the last 27 Republican primary contests.
A financial backer of Gingrich, Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, recently said he still supports Gingrich, but thinks the former House speaker has reached the “end of his line.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio