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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Santorum leaves campaign: It's over

10

April

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Rick Santorum came to this storied battleground Tuesday to surrender, ending his campaign for president and effectively handing the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney.

Santorum said he made the decision the same way he began the race: with his family gathered around the kitchen table. His wife, Karen, and four of his children stood with him Tuesday, misty eyed.

"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.

Santorum had as little chance imaginable to make up deficit with Romney, who overpowered him with organization, money and delegates. Santorum faced the real prospect of losing the April 25 Pennsylvania primary, a humiliating defeat in the state he represented in Congress for 16 years.

The blow would have echoed the bruising loss in Santorum's 2006 Senate re-election bid and could have left a permanent stain on his political future.

Santorum had been expected to start the day in Bedford, about two hours away, but his campaign emailed reporters after midnight to say the schedule had been upended. Santorum had been off the trail over the weekend due to the illness of his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, who has a rare genetic disorder.

The event in Gettysburg was held in a small room with room only for the news media, making it obvious it would not be a standard event.

Santorum did not mention Romney during his remarks, but the two men spoke earlier in the day and there is talk of a meeting in near future. Santorum did not take questions and ignored shouted queries whether he would back Romney.

Instead, he used his time to remember his grass-roots campaign and paid homage to the people of Iowa, who propelled him from the basement of a large GOP field to a contender — the last main rival to Romney until now. "Over and over again, we were told 'Forget it, you can't win.' We were winning. We were winning in a very different way. We were touching hearts."

Romney issued a statement minutes after calling Santorum "an able and worthy competitor" and that 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."

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:54pm]

    

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