In a surprise move, Republican candidate Rick Santorum announced yesterday that he would be suspending his campaign for the GOP contest. Mr. Santorum was previously forefront runner Mitt Romney’s chief rival for the Republican Party crown, although he had been trailing far behind Mr. Romney in delegate count. His announcement came amid polls showing that he would lose his home state of Pennsylvania to Mr. Romney in a vote that is to take place in two weeks.
For a long time, the Republican establishment had been urging Mr. Santorum to step aside to allow the party to concentrate their support on one candidate. Mr. Santorum also had to halt his campaign for four days last week following the hospitalization of his youngest daughter.
Mr. Santorum said in his speech that while the president race may be over for him, his team was “not done fighting”. He added that his team would “continue to fight for the Americans who stood up” for them.
Mr. Santorum did not mention Mr. Romney at the press conference and has yet to endorse the Republican candidate for the presidential elections in November. Mr. Romney, who has not performed well in deeply conservative states, has been unable to secure the support and votes of evangelical Christians and core conservative voters who have been rooting for Mr. Santorum instead. Mr. Santorum’s endorsement will be crucial in unifying the party behind Mr. Romney, since other candidates like Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are unlikely to overtake him. Mr. Gingrich has won only two states thus far.
Praising Mr. Santorum’s move to pull out of the race, Mr. Romney said that his former rival had made “an important contribution to the political process”. According to Mr. Romney, they spoke on the morning of Mr. Santorum’s announcement and “exchanged…thoughts about going forward”. Mr. Romney will continue to campaign in the GOP primary states to collect approximately 500 more delegates before he can clinch the nomination.
On the other hand, Mr. Gingrich has said that he will be “committed to saying in [the] race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice”. He also urged Mr. Santorum supporters to join him.
Report: Santorum quits race, clearing path for Romney [New York Times, 11 April 2012]
Report: Santorum quits race, handing Romney Republican crown [AFP, 11 April 2012]