But Romney played down the importance of the meeting between the himself and Gingrich, who earlier this week scaled back his campaign and laid off staffers.
“We’re pretty much in regular communication between the different campaigns and I said hello to Newt,” Romney told Sean Hannity in a radio interview. “Nothing new, nothing exciting except we keep a friendly discourse open.”
A source close to the Gingrich campaign confirmed the meeting happened early on 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.
“We do meet from time to time and I’m sure that the Speaker meets with Rick Santorum as well but we don’t go off and report the discussions,” Romney said. “But they are friendly and we discuss the issues, we discuss the way forward but we don’t reveal our secret campaign strategies.”
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 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 superPAC 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.”