Rick Santorum Suspends Republican Presidential Campaign

'Against all odds we won 11 states,' Santorum said on Tuesday (April 10).

After an improbable run that boosted him from a barely-considered fringe candidate a year ago to the last man standing to rival Mitt Romney 
 for the Republican presidential nomination, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced he was suspending his campaign on Tuesday (April 10).

“We made the decision to get into this race at our kitchen table against all the odds and 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 said.

The 12-minute afternoon press conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania featured Santorum surrounded by his family and backed by a flag as he re-iterated many of the themes of his campaign: the rebirth of American manufacturing, reforming Washington and a return to conservative values. “Against all odds we won 11 states, millions of voters, millions of votes,” he said. “We won more counties than all the other people in this race combined.”

With his emphasis on American manufacturing front-and-center to the end, Santorum even joked about his now-infamous sweater vests, noting that he sourced them from an American company, Minnesota’s Bemidji Woolen Mills.

The suspension removed the last major obstacle to Romney’s bid to become the uncontested front-runner in the race, paving the way for him to focus full-time on attacking President Obama. Santorum had positioned himself as the only true conservative left in the GOP field, sitting way behind the pack for much of 2011 as a wide field of other candidates, and would-be candidates, rose and fell before him, including Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

In late 2011, he caught fire unexpectedly, though, narrowly winning the Iowa caucus 
 (after the fact), then winning 10 more states along the way, despite being vastly outspent and outmanned by Romney at every stop.

The press conference came a day after three-year-old daughter Isabella was released from the hospital following her latest health scare, which took place on Friday and kept the family by her side all of Easter weekend. Bella suffers from the genetic condition Trisomy 18 and her hospitalization resulted in Santorum canceling his campaign events on Monday and Tuesday and speculation that he might be considering a suspension of his efforts.

Romney released a statement praising his one-time foe, saying, “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. 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.” Though the men traded harsh barbs during the campaign, it is expected that Santorum will fall in line and throw his support behind Romney in a bid to deny Obama a second term.

With polls showing that he was on track to possibly lose in the April 24 primary in his home state of Pennsylvania — which would have been embarrassing and possibly hurtful to his political future — Santorum’s exit leaves Romney with just two remaining challengers. At press time neither Gingrich nor Congressman Ron Paul appears to present much of a threat, as they are far behind in the delegate count and in fundraising. Gingrich, who has won two primaries, conceded over the weekend that Romney is “far and away the most likely” nominee; libertarian Paul has yet to win a primary.

Like Santorum, Romney still faces a serious gap with Obama when it comes to young voters (18-29), 22 million of whom voted in 2008. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Santorum was trailing among that demographic up until Super Tuesday, when his wins in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries helped vault him beyond youth-magnet Ron Paul. Even with that victory, though, Santorum still trailed Romney in terms of the overall youth vote count. Through Super Tuesday, the cumulative 2008 Democratic youth vote exceeded both the 2008 and 2012 count for the GOP, a figure that could prove important down the road for Romney.

Current estimates have Romney with 645 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, with Santorum well behind at 252, Gingrich with 128 and Paul with 45. Romney still needs to reach the 1,144 figure to lock down the nomination, in addition to winning over the many still-unconvinced voters in the party’s conservative base.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday had Romney trailing Obama in a head-to-head race by a 51 to 44 percent margin.

Stick with MTV’s Power of 12 throughout the presidential election season for updates and news from the campaigns.

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