GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Saturday made a pitch for former candidate Rick Santorum's support, telling reporters he would "love his endorsement."

"He has to do what he thinks is right for his family, and if he has campaign debt, what he has to do to help pay his campaign debt. I'm not going to put any pressure on Rick, but I'd love his endorsement," the former House Speaker told reporters at a campaign event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC, reported CNN.

Gingrich said the two had spoken on Friday but did not reveal if Santorum had indicated his support.

"We had a nice chat," Gingrich said, according to reports.

Gingrich, who battled Santorum to win the mantle of the conservative alternative to Romney, has made a strong play for the former Pennsylvania senator's backers. 

After Santorum's exit from the race last Tuesday, Gingrich sought to recast the primary as a two-man contest saying GOP voters now had a choice: "there's a conservative named Newt Gingrich, and there's Mitt Romney."

“I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice. I humbly ask Sen. Santorum’s supporters to visit to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa," Gingrich said last week.

But Gingrich's campaign is heavily in debt and the candidate was forced to cut his staff by a third in March and reduce his campaign schedule.

Gingrich trails GOP front-runner Mitt Romney with 136 to 666 delegates, by the Associated Press count. Santorum, who suspended his campaign last week had 282.