Rick Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign

The former Pennsylvania senator’s exit paves the way for Mitt Romney to win the GOP nomination.

Posted: 04/10/2012 02:25 PM EDT

(Photo: Jason Cohn/Reuters)

UPDATED:  Rick Santorum, who had been giving Mitt Romney a pretty serious run for his money during the past few months of the Republican presidential nomination race, announced today he would suspend his campaign.

 

"We made the decision over the weekend that while this presidential race is over for us, for me … and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting," Santorum said during a press conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

 

His exit comes just two weeks before the April 24 primary scheduled to take place in his home state of Pennsylvania. Recent polling showed the primary could have been even more embarrassing than Santorum's 2006 17-point defeat in his bid for a third Senate term. A graceful exit can only help him if he chooses to pursue the presidency in 2016, should President Obama win re-election.

 

It also allows him to continue to have a voice as the road to the White House becomes a two-man race between Romney and Obama, particularly for the Republican Party’s most strident conservatives.

 

Immediately after the announcement, Romney issued a statement congratulating Santorum on the campaign he ran, even though the two fought a pretty brutal war on the campaign trail. The two are expected to meet in the coming days, after which Santorum may endorse the former Massachusetts governor.

 

"Sen. Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran. He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation,” Romney said. “We both recognize that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity.”

 

Santorum had the longest run as the primary season’s anti-Romney candidate, but in the end could not drum up enough support to prevent his chief rival from winning the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination. He trailed Romney in the delegate count by 285 to 661 and several polls showed that, despite a continued lack of enthusiasm for Romney, he is widely believed to be the candidate with the best chance of beating Obama in November.

 

So, now there are three, if one considers Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich to be serious contenders, that is. Gingrich reiterated his commitment to staying in the race all the way to the Republican National Convention and called on Santorum’s supporters to back his bid.

 

“We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth and return to a balanced budget," Gingrich said.

 

 

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