Former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday hailed Rep. Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, calling the House Budget Committee chairman’s move a “great achievement” for the GOP frontrunner.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Gingrich, who remains far behind Romney and former senator Rick Santorum in the delegate count, maintained that he plans to stay in the race until Romney secures the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

His comments on Ryan’s move comes amid reports of a secret meeting over the weekend between Gingrich and Romney. Romney himself confirmed the meeting in a radio interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday.

“We’re pretty much in regular communication between the different campaigns and I said hello to Newt,” Romney said, according to ABC News. “Nothing new, nothing exciting except we keep a friendly discourse open.”