How Rick Santorum wins by dropping out of presidential race
Rick Santorum effectively ended his campaign Tuesday, but he has gained much after doing better than pundits expected, setting himself up for a run in 2016 or 2020.
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Romney had entered the nomination as the presumed front-runner, but he struggled to connect with key elements of the Republican base – evangelicals, blue-collar voters, and the very conservative, including tea paryters. Santorum, best known as a strong social conservative, proved an adept and tireless campaigner, and he emerged as the conservative alternative to the more-moderate Romney.Skip to next paragraph
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By “suspending” now – effectively ending his bid – Santorum preserves his options for 2016 if Romney does not win in November, or 2020 if Romney does. It is oft-noted that in the modern era, the Republicans usually nominate a candidate who has run before. Santorum can now fashion himself to be the 21st century version of Ronald Reagan, who ran for the GOP nomination twice unsuccessfully before succeeding – and reaching the White House – in 1980.
And by leaving the race now, as opposed to waiting even a few more weeks, he has avoided burning his bridges to the Republican establishment and other elements of the party that might find cause to blame him if Romney loses in November. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Romney losing to Mr. Obama by 7 percentage points, with deep deficits among women and Latino voters, and major work to do on likability.
In his remarks, Santorum marveled at the journey he took as a candidate, and what he got out of the experience.
“At a time when over and over again we were told, ‘Forget it, you can’t win,’ we were winning,” he said. “We were winning in a very different way, because we were touching hearts, we were raising issues that frankly a lot of people didn’t want to have raised.”
For his efforts, Santorum won primaries and caucuses in 11 states, for 272 delegates, according to the Real Clear Politics count. Romney has 656 delegates so far, out of 1,144 needed for the nomination. In the vote count, Santorum has won 3.2 million to Romney’s 4.6 million.
Before Santorum stepped before the microphone to announce the end of his campaign, he reportedly called Romney to concede – though in his public remarks, he did not endorse Romney.
Romney issued a statement congratulating his former opponent.
“Senator Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran,” Romney said. “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.”
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