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Rick Santorum has had a good run. Where does he go from here?

To win the nomination, Rick Santorum needs 69 percent of the remaining delegates. Even a brokered convention may be elusive. After Louisiana on Saturday, the road ahead looks tough.

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Speaking to reporters after his thumping in Illinois Tuesday, Santorum refused to even acknowledge that he lost badly.

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"It wasn't a tough night. We did very well," he said. "We picked up a lot of delegates tonight in a very tough state. Nobody had any expectations for us to win, and you know we did what we had to do."

He also put more pressure on Gingrich supporters to move over to him, saying, "it's very clear it’s a two-person race and now we need to get all the conservatives to line up behind us."

But if all of Gingrich's supporters had gone with Santorum in Illinois, the former Pennsylvania senator still would have lost.

Looking ahead, Santorum also doesn't get much help from the calendar.

Louisiana votes Saturday, and Santorum is expected to win there. But after that come a slew of Northern states where Romney is far better positioned. Of the states voting in April, Santorum has hope in Wisconsin, and in his home state of Pennsylvania, but that's about it.

So why stay in the race? Partly, it may have to do with denial – especially after such an unexpected Cinderella surge late in the campaign season. Or a wish to at least end on a good note, with a victory in Pennsylvania.

Santorum may also be hoping to garner more influence within the party, especially its growing conservative wing.

But expect increased calls, both publicly and behind the scenes, for Santorum to acknowledge what almost everyone else seems to have realized.

On CNN Tuesday, Piers Morgan asked Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom whether it was time for the other candidates to consider stepping down.

Mr. Fehrnstrom replied that he understands the "emotion and the hard work and the sweat that goes into a campaign" and what a personal decision it is to step down – but then made it clear he believes Romney's opponents are in denial.

"At some point the reality is going to set in that Mitt is the all-but-certain nominee," Fehrnstrom said. "I can tell you what Mitt Romney did four years ago when he found himself in the similar situation running against John McCain. After Super Tuesday, John McCain certainly didn’t have the delegates to become the nominee, but he was on track to get those delegates and Mitt Romney made the decision – and it was a difficult one – to step aside. And he stepped aside because he thought it was good for the country."

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