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Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign

Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign

By Erin McPike - April 10, 2012


Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign for president before competing in his home state of Pennsylvania later this month, allowing Mitt Romney to pivot fully to the general election.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday afternoon in Gettysburg, Pa., Santorum said, "Against all odds, we won 11 states -- millions of voters, millions of votes." He added that he won more counties in the states that have held contests than all of the other GOP presidential hopefuls combined.

But he went on to say, “We made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting."

He committed to helping Republicans defeat President Obama this fall, but he didn’t endorse Romney -- nor did he mention the front-runner by name. Instead, he stressed that he didn’t run a negative race, dinging Romney indirectly by noting, “We weren’t trashing anybody.”

Romney issued a statement after Santorum concluded his remarks: “Senator 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.”

Newt Gingrich, campaigning in New Bern, N.C., praised his competitor for waging “a remarkable campaign. His success is a testament to his tenacity and the power of conservative principles.” Though he lags far behind in the delegate count, Gingrich's statement said he is “committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice.”

The Ron Paul campaign offered a response as well, lauding Santorum’s “spirited campaign.” The statement said Paul “is now the last -- and real -- conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. We plan to continue running hard, secure delegates, and press the fight for limited, constitutional government in Tampa.” 

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus offered a pat on the back for the former Pennsylvania senator, saying he "has run a strong and admirable race. He has exemplified what a grassroots campaign is all about. He started out with little more than a pickup truck, going county to county in Iowa. As he exits the race today, he does so from the national stage.”

Priebus went on to say: “Rick has already reached out to say he will be part of the team effort to ensure Republican victories up and down the ballot in November. He will continue to be an active leader and persuasive voice in our Party and in the larger conservative movement.”

The GOP leader congratulated him for putting his family first.

Indeed, the former senator took the holiday weekend and Monday off from campaigning to spend time with his family, prompting wide swaths of the Republican establishment and the media to conclude that he was re-evaluating his candidacy.

The campaign issued several statements explaining that his youngest daughter, Bella, was back in the hospital and that he would not be quitting the race.

But as he took the podium, Santorum said, “We had a little bit of a tough weekend,” noting that Bella “is a fighter and she is doing exceptionally well.”

He continued, “We are looking forward to spending a lot of great time with her,” but pointed out that the episode “did cause us to think. . . . We were very concerned about being the best parents we possibly could to our children.”

As late as Monday afternoon, Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo denied to RCP that his boss was rethinking his run. Asked if any of the rumors were true about a potential end, Biundo said, “No. Rick’s made a statement about this already.” He also suggested that Romney would have a difficult road ahead against Santorum in the Pennsylvania primary, meaning the campaign was still churning just 24 hours ago.

During a topsy-turvy Republican primary season that saw the rise (and fall) of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, Santorum was largely written off early by the media and his party -- save for the religious right in Iowa, the state that votes first in the process. His pull with those voters lifted him to the narrowest of victories over Romney and gave him a platform to keep competing in the process.

And acknowledging that in his remarks Tuesday, Santorum said, “Miracle after miracle, this race was as improbable as any race you’ll see for president.” 

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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