Santorum Quits Race
Rick Santorum announced yesterday that he is suspending his campaign for the
Republican presidential nomination. By suspending the campaign rather than ending it
outright, he can continue to collect donations to pay off any campaign debts he has
In his speech in Gettysburg, PA, he did not endorse Mitt Romney.
But make no mistake, he is conceding defeat and not coming back later.
Another consequence of suspending, rather than ending, his campaign is that those
delegates bound to him (primary delegates, not caucus delegates) remain bound
and must vote for him at the convention unless he releases them.
Two events no doubt motivated his departure. First and foremost, despite the
fact that he once represented Pennsylvania in the Senate, recent
showed him 5 points behind Romney and falling.
Earlier in the year, he had a large lead in Pennsylvania, nominally his home state
although he was born in Virginia and lives there now. But then the battle in Pennsylvania
took its usual course. Mitt Romney and his allied superPACs poured millions of
dollars into negative TV ads, and that took down Santorum in Pennsylvania as it
did in every other contested state outside the South. Being outspent 5 to 1 or more takes
its toll on any candidate.
The other reason Santorum dropped out is that his 3-year-old daughter, Bella,
was hospitalized again with pneumonia. Although she has been allowed to go home,
her condition, trisomy 18, is generally fatal. No one doubts that Santorum
genuinely prefers spending time with his sick daughter than campaigning. In a sense,
her recent hospitalization provides a convenient excuse for him to stop campaigning:
he can look like a devoted family man and also avoid a career-ending defeat in
Pennsylvania at the same time. If Romney loses the general election, Santorum can
make a decent claim in 2016 to be the heir apparent.
After all, he did win
while Gingrich won only his home state of Georgia and South Carolina.
None of the other candidates won any states.
Of course, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and quite a few other
high-profile Republicans may have dreams about 2016 as well.
No doubt some pundits will say Santorum dropped out entirely to be with his
daughter, but the facts speak otherwise. This is the second time Bella has been
hospitalized with pneumonia this year. When she was hospitalized in January,
Santorum did not suspend his campaign or do anything other than take off a few days
to be with her. It was only the combination of her illness plus an ignominious
defeat looming on the horizon that got him out.
Technically, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still in the race, but it seems
unlikely that either one will be able to capitalize on Santorum's departure in
a big way. Similarly, it is probably too late for anyone else to jump in.
But the fact remains that Romney has failed to break 50% in any contested
primary outside of his home state of Massachusetts. In the coming few weeks we
will see if the base of the Republican Party finally gives in and accepts Romney.
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