What does 'suspending' mean?
April 10th, 2012
04:23 PM ET
11 years ago

What does 'suspending' mean?

(CNN) – Rick Santorum announced Tuesday he was suspending his bid for the 2012 GOP nomination. Below is a primer on what candidates mean when they say they're 'suspending' their campaigns.

"Suspending" vs. Dropping Out – What's the Difference?

Federal law does not have a specific definition of "suspending" a campaign and does not officially recognize the act of "suspending" a campaign. Herman Cain announced in December 2011 that he was "suspending" his campaign, but federal law considers him to be a candidate until he officially terminates or closes his campaign account or publicly states he is no longer a candidate.

Practically speaking, if a candidate removes him- or herself from the race without the intent of re-entering at a later date, then there is not a big difference between "suspending" a campaign vs. dropping out entirely. The end result is usually the same: the candidate is no longer seeking that particular office. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Mitt Romney all "suspended" their campaigns, but their bids had effectively ended.

One notable exception: John McCain announced he was suspending his presidential campaign in late September 2008 so that he could return to Washington to focus on the financial crisis. However, McCain made it clear that the suspension was temporary and that he would eventually resume with the campaign.

That said, there are two main differences between "suspending" and ending a presidential campaign: delegates and money.


Federal law plays no role in delegate selection rules. It's up to the party to decide how to treat delegates won by a candidate who has suspended his campaign. In general, candidates who suspend their campaigns get to keep any delegates they've won, while candidates who drop out have to forfeit certain delegates, usually statewide delegates.


"Suspending" a campaign allows a candidate to publicly withdraw from a race while preserving the ability to raise funds beyond what's needed to retire debt. This may include the ability to continue to receive federal matching funds, if the candidate has previously qualified for them.

When candidates announce they are dropping out or ending their campaigns, they may then only raise money to retire any remaining campaign debts or to pay for other costs related to shutting down a campaign committee. They may not continue to amass warchests beyond that if they drop out.

However, if a candidate "suspends" his campaign but doesn't officially end his candidacy, federal law does not specifically prohibit that candidate from continuing to raise funds for purposes other debt retirement.

Candidates who "suspend" their campaigns as well as those who officially drop out must still continue to file disclosure reports, as long as they have an active campaign committee.

Filed under: 2012
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jay

    Wonder if he'll restart his campaign after Obama wins for the 2016 campaign like Romney has been doing for the last four years?

    April 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. Alexanders

    The only thing is that Romney will win.... Obama needs to go. He sure has been a very unefficient president. I voted for him last time. but, not again. sorry. he is and should be done.

    April 10, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |

    Suspending means I have a crap load of debt to pay off.

    April 10, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |

    Or it could mean, I saw the poll numbers in Pennsylvania and it looked like I was going to lose my home state .....AGAIN

    April 10, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    "Suspend" = hold out for the best speaking gig fees/Fox show/VP nod.

    April 10, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |

    They just can't bring their ego along to say I quit, I got beat, the American people don't like me or want me. Kind of like a big baby syndrome.

    April 10, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    @Alexanders: "I voted for him [Obama] last time."

    Yeah, right. You're going back to the GOP economic, military and foreign policies that are all PROVEN FAILURES instead of sticking with President Obama's policies that kept us from going into a Great Depression, has kept GM alive and put bin Laden at the bottom of the sea?

    Post again when you have the stones to tell the truth.

    April 10, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Kenny K

    @Alexanders: "I voted for him [Obama] last time."

    Look at the GOP forces president Obama goes against every day since he was elected. They have been working hard to make sure that his terms are not successful. Everything Obama proposes, they oppose (include their own ideas).

    Put everything in context before you make a decision.

    April 10, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. The REAL Truth.. (not the imposter)

    @Alexanders – He sure has been a very unefficient president.
    Well there you have it! It's INefficient bud.. It's unnerving how uneducated and unintelligent those that follow the unending blather of the right tend to be.

    April 10, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. Another Day in the Idiot Mines (not the whiny rightwing liar)

    "I voted for him last time. but, not again. sorry. he is and should be done."

    The GOBP will be spending a lot of money to pay losers to post this sort of nonsense all over the internet. Count on it.

    April 10, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. rufus

    I would vote for Sandusky before I would vote for Obama.

    April 10, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Dick Cheney is the smegma of mankind!

    It means Sanitarium has decided to use the "spend more time with my family" excuse to gracefully depart the race while he has any self-respect left and folks are feeling sympathetic for his family.

    April 10, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. bereanstudent

    The only conservative pro-life Christian candidate still in the race for President is Ron Paul.

    April 10, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |