Santorum ends presidential hopes

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum takes to the stage at the Wisconsin Faith and Freedom Presidential Kick-Off at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Saturday, March 31. Photo by Mark Hoffman (MCT Campus).

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum takes to the stage at the Wisconsin Faith and Freedom Presidential Kick-Off at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Saturday, March 31. Photo by Mark Hoffman (MCT Campus).

Lindsy Neer

Rick Santorum announced Tuesday he would suspend his campaign for president of the United States, effectively handing the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney.

The announcement came after the weekend hospitalization of Santorum’s 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, for pneumonia.

“We made the decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds,” Santorum said in Tuesday’s news conference, surrounded by family. “And we made a decision over the weekend that, while the presidential race is over for us, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.”

The conservative, former Pennsylvania senator was Romney’s main challenger. Although Romney still has hundreds of delegates to go before he clinches the Republican nomination, neither Newt Gingrich nor Ron Paul have the numbers to pose a challenge.

“Sen. Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran,” Romney said in a statement. “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.”

Gingrich also praised Santorum for his “remarkable campaign” and said he still planned to stay in the race “so that the conservative movement has a real choice.” Paul also released a statement, saying he would continue his efforts to become the Republican nominee.

Kent State College Republicans have been urging students to show up at the polls this semester, whether to vote for Romney, Santorum, Gingrich or Paul.

Greg Allison, president of Kent State College Republicans, said the group isn’t allowed to support a specific candidate this early. However, Santorum’s campaign suspension gives a clearer view of how the group will need to spend next semester — in “Romney mode.”

“Now that everything’s winding down, we’ll be saying ‘Vote Romney,’” he said.

The matter of who became the Republican nominee didn’t much affect campaigning, said Bryan Staul, president of Kent State College Democrats.

  • Santorum’s total delegates before suspending his campaign stood at 285, according to an Associated Press poll.
  • Delegates from five states — Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington and North Dakota — were awarded in nonbinding contests, meaning the delegates were, and remain, free to vote for any candidate at the Republican convention.
  • However, the remaining 201 delegates, according to the AP tally, are technically bound to Santorum since he suspended his campaign instead of outright ending it. This means unless he releases them, they are required to vote for him at the Tampa, Fla. convention.

“We’ve pretty much operated with the assumption, for a few months now, that Romney was going to be the nominee,” he said. “… We’re maintaining our message from the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party.”

Dale H. Fellows, chairman of Lake County Republicans, said the group has been gearing up for Romney as the likely nominee.

“We’ve always put running against Barack Obama first. It was just a matter of which candidate was going to be the nominee,” he said. “Now that we pretty well know, the general election campaign starts in earnest.”

Fellows said the Lake County Republicans are currently focused on local races, but Santorum leaving the race enables them to stop speaking about candidates in generalities.

“Now, we can talk specifically about the differences between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama,” he said.

Suspending his campaign gives Santorum the chance to pay back nearly $1 million of debt, according to numbers by the Federal Election Commission as of Feb. 29.

Tuesday afternoon, the Santorum campaign sent an email to supporters asking for their continued support by donating.

“I am planning to do everything in my power to bring a change about in the White House,” the email said. “But our campaign has debt, and I cannot be free to focus on helping defeat him with this burden.”

Contact Lindsy Neer at [email protected].