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Santorum Made Weekend Decision to Quit Race Santorum Made Weekend Decision to Quit Race

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / campaign 2012

Santorum Made Weekend Decision to Quit Race

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania speaks at a campaign rally in Florida in January.(AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
April 10, 2012

GETTYSBURG, Pa.--In suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, Rick Santorum said he made the decision over the weekend in consultation with his wife, Karen, and their children.

Santorum opened his remarks before a small gathering at the Gettysburg Hotel by recalling the hospitalization of his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, on Friday and said that the girl's continuing health problems contributed to his decision and caused him to rethink his role as a parent.

“We made the decision to get into this race at our kitchen table against all 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,” Santorum said, surrounded by his wife and four of their seven children.

 

The former senator from Pennsylvania left the campaign trail last Thursday after Bella, who suffers from Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disorder that is often fatal, was hospitalized for a second time during his presidential campaign. The campaign announced on early Tuesday that she had been released from the hospital, but it canceled the candidate’s morning campaign stops and added an undefined event in Gettysburg.

As he spoke in a small conference room at the Gettysburg Hotel, Santorum recalled his legions of supporters on the campaign, particularly those with disabilities.

“It wasn’t my voice I was out communicating, it was your voice,” Santorum said of his supporters. “Your voice could be heard and miracles could happen, and so it did, miracle after miracle. This race was as improbable as any race you could have seen for president.”

Santorum emerged as the main alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney after an astounding rise from 3 percent support in the polls to a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses in January. In total, he won 11 contests and was hoping that upcoming wins in Pennsylvania and Texas would sustain his campaign.

But his poll numbers took a nosedive in recent weeks, dropping from double to single digits, and Santorum was failing to gain traction in the all-important contest in Pennsylvania. He lost a Senate reelection bid in Pennsylvania by 18 percentage points in 2006, and the specter of a second humiliating defeat in his home state in the presidential contest may have been as persuasive as his family concerns in his decision to call it quits.

Santorum was badly outspent by the Romney campaign at every turn, destroying his early leads in big states like Michigan and Ohio. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s continued presence in the race, despite having no chance at the nomination, likely denied Santorum support from conservatives.

According to campaign press secretary Alice Stewart, Santorum assembled his entire campaign staff on a conference call at 1:45 p.m. to share the news. His senior strategist, John Brabender, also said he had spoken to Romney about his exit from the race and that Romney has a requested a meeting in the “near future.” The two are expected to discuss a potential endorsement for Romney.

Santorum may be looking for some help from Romney in paying his campaign bills, which could go a long way in mending fences between the two. In an e-mail to supporters on Tuesday afternoon, Santorum asked for small contributions of $25 or more to help him pay campaign debts. Four years ago, victorious Democratic nominee Barack Obama gave financial help to the campaign of former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton after she got out of the race. Clinton wound up becoming Obama's secretary of State.

At an event later that evening in Lancaster, Pa., Santorum said the campaign and its abrupt end had taken more of an emotional toll on his family than himself.

 “I can't say it was an emotional moment for me. I know it was a little tougher for the family, always is tougher for the family,” Santorum said. “It's different than being on the sidelines and seeing the people, the person you love being hit. It hurts more. It was a little tougher for Karen and the kids. They did an amazing job, as they always have, in standing behind me in every sense of the word. ”

 

Reacting to Santorum's news, Gingrich said in a statement: “Rick has waged a remarkable campaign. His success is 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.... We know well that only a conservative can protect life, defend the Constitution, restore jobs and growth, and return to a balanced budget.”

Another candidate still in the race, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who also has no hope of winning, issued a statement saying, “Congratulations to Senator Santorum on running such a spirited campaign.  Dr. 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.”

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