Move Clears Way For Mitt Romney To Lock GOP Nomination


WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is suspending his presidential campaign.

Santorum, who won 11 states during the GOP primaries, could not catch up with Mitt Romney in the delegate count.

“We made a decision over the weekend that the presidential race is over for us, for me,” Santorum said Tuesday during a press conference.

Santorum avoided a direct endorsement of GOP rival Romney during his announcement, though he predict the Republican’s success in unseating President Barack Obama and win the Senate in November’s general election. “This game is a long, long way from over,” said Santorum.

Santorum’s decision to drop out comes the same day his 3-year-old daughter, Bella — who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18 — was released from the hospital.

Santorum dropping out now gives Romney a clear path to the Republican nomination. Romney is expected to reach the number of 1,144 by early June to clinch the nomination.

Santorum spoke with Romney before the announcement, a Republican source close to the campaign said.

The delegate totals told the tale of Santorum’s demise. Romney has more than twice as many delegates asSantorum and is on pace to reach the 1,144 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 been hoping to hold out through the primary in Pennsylvania on April 24, but decided to fold up 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.

Santorum stressed the improbable accomplishment of the past year, saying that “against all odds, we won 11 states, millions of voters, millions of votes.”

He said that while Romney was accumulating more delegates, “we were winning in a very different way. We were touching hearts” with his 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.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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