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Santorum suspends GOP presidential campaign

By Marc Levy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:26 a.m. HST, Apr 10, 2012

GETTYSBURG, Pa. >> Bowing to the inevitable after an improbably resilient run for the White House, Rick Santorum quit the presidential race on Tuesday, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to claim the Republican nomination.

"We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting," he said.

Santorum, appearing with his family, told supporters that the battle to defeat President Barack Obama would go on but pointedly made no mention or endorsement of Romney, whom he had derided as an unworthy standard-bearer for the GOP.

The former Pennsylvania senator stressed that he'd taken his presidential bid farther than anyone expected, calling his campaign "as improbable as any race that you will ever see for president."

"Against all odds," he said, "we won 11 states, millions of voters, millions of votes."

Santorum signaled his intent to maintain a voice in the campaign to come, saying: "This game is a long, long, long way from over. We will continue to go out and fight and defeat President Barack Obama."

Santorum spoke with Romney before the announcement, a Republican source close to the campaign said, and Romney asked to meet him sometime in the future

The delegate totals told the tale of Santorum's demise. Romney has more than twice as many delegates as Santorum and is on pace to reach the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination by early June. Still in the race, but not considered a factor: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Santorum had hoped to keep his campaign going through the Pennsylvania primary on April 24, but decided to fold after his severely ill 3-year-old daughter, Bella, spent the weekend in the hospital.

Santorum, a feisty campaigner who took everyone by surprise with his win in Iowa's leadoff caucuses, ran on his conservative credentials and his experience in Congress — he was a House member for four years and senator for 12 — but was hobbled by a lack of money and organization.

He said that while Romney was accumulating more delegates, "we were winning in a very different way. We were touching hearts" with a conservative message.

In a statement, Romney called Santorum "an able and worthy competitor" and congratulated him on his campaign.

"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."

With Romney on his way to the nomination and a contest against the president, Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, sharply criticized Romney for waging a negative ad campaign against his opponents.

"It's no surprise that Mitt Romney finally was able to grind down his opponents under an avalanche of negative ads. But neither he nor his special interest allies will be able to buy the presidency with their negative attacks," Messina said. "The more the American people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him and the less they trust him."

Santorum said the campaign had been "a love affair for me, going from state to state. ... We were raising issues, frankly, that a lot of people did not want raised."

He spoke almost nostalgically of the race, and of his trademark sweater vest, a pointed visual contrast to his suited rivals.

"Over and over again we were told, 'Forget it. You can't win,'" he said.

Eventually, the improbable had to bow to reality: Santorum would have needed 80 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination before the party's national convention in Florida in August. And that couldn't happen as long as Romney was in the race because most upcoming primaries use some type of proportional system to award delegates, making it hard to win large numbers of delegates in individual states.

In most states, Santorum's delegates can now support any candidate they choose.

Gingrich, who has been splitting the votes of those who questioned Romney's conservative credentials with Santorum, made an immediate play for his supporters.

He said the former senator's campaign was "a testament to his tenacity and the power of conservative principles.

"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 Senator Santorum's supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa."

Paul also congratulated Santorum for "running such a spirited campaign" and called himself "the last — and real — conservative alternative to Mitt Romney."

Suspending the campaign allows Santorum to keep paying off nearly $1 million in debt, according to recent Federal Election Commission filings. Those debts include about $500,000 for media consulting and tens of thousands more for telemarking and online advertising, records show.

Other presidential candidates have eventually extinguished their debt and terminated their campaigns. Former Minnesota Gov. Tom Pawlenty officially shuttered his campaign committee on Tuesday, owing as much as a half a million dollars last fall but slowly whittling that figure down.


Associated Press writers Kasie Hunt, Jack Gillum and Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this report.

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AhiPoke wrote:
Okay, maybe we can now work on ridding this country of the worst, most divisive, racist president of our generation. I can't believe I voted for obummer. Probably because I believed his rhetoric about pulling our country together or because I thought no one could be worse than bush. Boy was I wrong. Four more years of this bum could destroy our country for decades. While I don't like politicians in general and I'm not a supporter of Romney, my position is anybody but obummer.
on April 10,2012 | 08:40AM
kapoleitalkstory wrote:
What! His campaign was just saying this weekend that they had a plan to make it to the nomination! Are they going to refund all the donors that gave? This is just like the GOP no conviction except of course when they get caught lying and stealing. Well I guess the fact that Newt is still in the race is some comfort for the late night comedians...
on April 10,2012 | 08:54AM
lee1957 wrote:
I remember a democrat resigning his seat in Congress to run for govenor, triggering a special election at taxpayer's expense. The basest political behavior that you ascribe to one party is always shared by the other.
on April 10,2012 | 06:11PM
false wrote:
Too late! He already made this election win near to impossible.
on April 10,2012 | 09:02AM
primowarrior wrote:
Rats. I was really enjoying watching that Republican campaign circus. I hope Newtie can pick up Santorum's supporters and keep the sideshow going.
on April 10,2012 | 09:20AM
Changalang wrote:
Rick has already destroyed Romney's chances and it shows in the polling losses of women for the GOP. Rick saw some internal polling showing which way his home State of Pennsylvania was trending. The country is lucky to have this D.C. pr0stitute out of the mix since the Vegas billionaire has pulled the plug on Rick's SuperPac that was once Newt's. Sorry Rick, no Veep slot for you. The good news is that the National GOP is waking up to the value of moderate candidates and political stances in American culture. The Palinization of the GOP has finally gone into remission. :)
on April 10,2012 | 09:43AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Another one bites the Super Pac dust.
on April 10,2012 | 09:56AM
iwanaknow wrote:
What's the big deal......Obama is gonna win anyway.
on April 10,2012 | 12:37PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Watch the economic collapse if that happens...
on April 10,2012 | 12:48PM
primowarrior wrote:
Obama's been in office for going on four years, and the economy has improved during that time. If it collapses, it will probably be because of Europe.
on April 10,2012 | 01:04PM
IAmSane wrote:
You guys said that last year, and the year before that, and... Stop fear mongering.
on April 10,2012 | 09:34PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
Bedtime for Barry! The inevitable Romney win will come as a shock to the ever-delusional Obamatons.
on April 10,2012 | 12:54PM
false wrote:
I don't think so!
on April 10,2012 | 08:59PM
IAmSane wrote:
I don't care for Obama, but I care for Romney even less. I'm pretty sure Obama's going to win easily. Also, if we're going to call people names, the Republican tend to be more delusional than the Democrats. Just an opinion from a person who is neither Democrat nor a Republican. <3
on April 10,2012 | 09:37PM
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