April 10th, 2012
02:51 PM ET
3 years ago

Race over, but Santorum vows to keep fighting

(CNN) - Rick Santorum suspended his campaign on Tuesday after it became increasingly unlikely he could tackle the obstacles standing in his way on the road to the GOP presidential nomination, according to a Santorum source.

The source said the three events that would have to occur for the former Pennsylvania senator to secure the nomination became largely improbable; Texas becoming a winner-take-all delegate state, Santorum winning the Pennsylvania primary on April 24 and rival candidate Newt Gingrich stepping aside.

During a conference call with his wife, Karen, campaign manager and staff before the official suspension, Santorum said the decision was based on personal and political factors, according to a Santorum source.

"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 during his speech in Gettysburg. "We will continue to fight for those voices for those Americans who stood up and gave us that air under our wings."

He also acknowledged the decision was not entirely political, saying the past weekend was a "time of prayer and thought" as he and his family cared for his daughter Isabella.

Santorum's organization announced they were halting campaign events on Friday because the candidate's three-year-old daughter Bella was admitted to the hospital. Bella, the youngest of Santorum's seven children, suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18, which causes severe medical and developmental problems.

Santorum spoke to rival Mitt Romney before Tuesday's speech, according to a Republican source. But Santorum spokesperson Hogan Gidley told CNN an endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor "is not a inevitability."

Gidley said Santorum and Romney are attempting to schedule a meeting to discuss an endorsement and that the latter would like it to occur "sooner rather than later."

Known even before his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination as a staunch social conservative, Santorum often presented himself on the campaign trail as the alternative to more moderate candidates, who he said had compromised their ideals for political expediency.

Santorum officially announced his candidacy on June 6, 2011, and quickly began airing radio ads in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire. Soon after his official announcement, he said in a CNN interview that his bid would be based on a consistent conservative record.

"I think I stand out because I have been a consistent conservative, someone who has been a leader, someone who's had the courage to lead on a variety of hot button topics before they were popular like entitlement reform. I've been a leader on that," Santorum said on June 13.

In August, when his candidacy was barely making waves in key early voting states, Santorum maintained his effort would take a long view of the race, saying at an August rally "This is the little-engine-that-could campaign."

At GOP presidential debates throughout the fall, Santorum stood mostly on the sidelines while a rotating band of GOP frontrunners took center stage. At a CNN debate in September, Santorum was criticized for not reacting to a chorus of boos from the audience after a gay soldier asked a question.

Santorum later said he couldn't hear the boos from where he stood on stage.

The candidate had the distinction of becoming the first GOP presidential candidate to visit all of Iowa's 99 counties, often sporting what became his signature - a sweater vest bearing his campaign's logo. Santorum mentioned the vests as a great moment from the campaign in his speech Tuesday.

Despite the effort, Santorum didn't see substantial traction in polls until January. He won Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, though wasn't declared the winner until nearly a week after the contest. Romney, who was declared the winner on the night of Iowa's contest, was the candidate who saw the biggest bump from the event, though Santorum's strong finish led to a fundraising spike.

A group of key evangelical leaders publicly backed Santorum in January after huddling in Texas, saying it was essential for the conservative wing of the Republican Party to convene around a single candidate. Santorum lacked many of the big name endorsers his rival Romney nabbed, though the candidate often derided Romney for having the backing of the Washington establishment.

Santorum went on to win Republican presidential contests in Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Alabama. CNN currently estimates Santorum to have 275 delegates, compared to 659 for frontrunner Romney and 140 for Gingrich.

Despite increasingly long odds, Santorum maintained throughout the last weeks of March that he would stay in the race, citing flawed delegate math and upcoming contests that looked to be in his favor.

"Our delegate calculation has Governor Romney far below 50-percent," Santorum said on March 19 on CBS. "We think there's a lot of primaries coming up, including Pennsylvania my home state, where we can make some big delegates. Texas will be another great state for us. We feel very good that we're going to continue to win and do well."

Prior to his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination, Santorum served as a political commentator on Fox News Channel and a management consultant.

He served in the U.S. Senate for twelve years beginning in 1995 before suffering a crushing defeat in 2006 to current Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. From 1991-1995 he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Keystone State's 18th Congressional district.

CNN's Ashleigh Banfield, Dana Bash, John King, Peter Hamby, Paul Steinhauser and Shannon Travis contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Luke Brown

    It is bizarre that a party as conservative as the GOP has become would nominate a guy whose record as the governor of the most liberal state in the country was that of a liberal.

    I don't get it. Go Newt!

    April 10, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Romney is not My Hero

    About time!!! I bet his tin foil hat wearing supporters are crying all over themselves. Hopefully now Old Man Paul and Gangrene will follow his lead and quit, too.

    April 10, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. Michael

    He would not have been someone I would have voted for. He's a nice man but i disagree with his positions.

    April 10, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The Monty Python skit lives on.

    April 10, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Debby

    Thank goodness. He needs to spend time with his sick daughter vs. the political garbage.

    April 10, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. once upon a horse

    so Romney is the WORST Republican to run against President Obama claimed Santorum so unless he plans to walk that statement back I can not see HOW he can back him. One thing Rick was good at doing was doubling down as they like to say on even some of the most asinine statements he has made. Wonder how he will handle this particular one.

    April 10, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. JC in Western U.S.

    I think he made a good decision. Continuing a campaign with little chance of overtaking Romney's would take time and energy away from his family. I never in a million years would have voted for him and opposed every single stance he took. But I do respect his undeniable love for his family, and that he recognized that time with his children is irreplaceable. Bella will not be with them forever, she's defied the odds already, and I give him credit for doing some soul searching and realizing that there are things in life that are far more important that politics.

    April 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. garry

    O'h was he running for President?

    April 10, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. chuck weidemann

    From every appearance Santorum loves his family and is true to his religious convictions. Good for him and I am glad he is out of the race....now only the man whom no one knows is left!!!

    April 10, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. Dave

    Now it is time to unite to defeat Obama!

    April 10, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    @ Dave....

    Good luck with that!

    April 10, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    Romney will flip flop and back slide towards the middle of the political spectrum away from conservative positions now that Santorum has dropped out.

    April 10, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Tom

    Wow. I didn't think his religion allowed him to pull out.

    April 10, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. James

    Another perpetrator of the war on women is gone. Go away Rick and take care of your family. America does not need you to be our moral compass!

    April 10, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. thomascorwin

    Thank you, Rick Santorum, for ending your campaign. You are a social ultraconservative, a big domestic and foreign policy spender, and a threat to our children as a result of your obsession with provocative war as foreign policy.

    Is there anyone out there who understands that the job is to protect our citizens lives and property, allowing them to create prosperity and thus, provide true wealth that we can charitably contribute to the less fortunate both at home and abroad? Can anyone keep us out of deeper debt and the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency? Do any of those standing respect our basic Rights? How about a respect for our soldier's/children's lives?

    There is only one, and it's not Santorum, Romney, gingrich, or Obama...

    April 10, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. L.C.

    I will be voting for Ron Paul in 2012, even if it means I have to write his name in again, like I did in '08.

    Long Live Liberty, Truth & Justice For All – there's only one candidate who is serious about bringing it. The others, on both sides, are just paid BIG to act like it.

    April 10, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Three things have to happen? Just three? What about that something or other freezing over? In Florida. In August.

    April 10, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. Me Too

    This election year brings to mind my favorite quote from the Simpsons:

    Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.

    April 10, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. K. in Miami

    It's about time, this race baiting intellectual lightweight should enter those exit doors with his head held LOW, he is pathetic.....

    His departure should atleast remove the stinch of Racism, Religous Fanatism, and end the war on Women...!

    April 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Jam.Nat

    Whether you agree with him or nor, Santorum was real. The man was true to his word and lives by his convictions. He cares for his family and was transparent, which is something that should be respected by all. In contrast the current president is nothing more then a double dealer whose "Change" slogan turned out to be that, nothing but a slogan.

    April 10, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. nolimits3333

    Could the contrast be any greater between Romney, who looted American companies and shipped their jobs overseas, only pays taxes at a 13% rate, stashes his money in the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes, and President Obama, who saved GM and created 23 straight months of private sector job growth?

    April 10, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Marshall

    Torquemada has folded and thrown in his hand.

    April 10, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |