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4 ways Rick Santorum benefits by sticking around
The Pennsylvanian's hopes of winning the GOP nomination have all but vanished. Still, Santorum has good reasons for refusing to throw in the towel
Rick Santorum insists he won't drop out for weeks, or even months, and some political insiders believe he's holding out for a spot on Mitt Romney's ticket.
Rick Santorum insists he won't drop out for weeks, or even months, and some political insiders believe he's holding out for a spot on Mitt Romney's ticket.
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

 

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hough most Republican leaders believe Mitt Romney essentially secured the GOP nomination with a trio of primary wins on Tuesday, fading rival Rick Santorum says he has no intention of ending his presidential bid anytime soon. Sen. John McCain, the GOP's 2008 nominee, is indifferent, telling CNN, "Whether Rick Santorum stays in or not, is now basically irrelevant." So what does Santorum have to gain by continuing the fight? Here, four theories:

1. He's laying the groundwork for 2016
Although bowing out would be the right thing to do, says Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary, Santorum seems to believe that staging a "kamikaze run" at Romney would put Santorum "at the top of the list of GOP contenders for 2016." If Romney, weakened by Santorum's continued attacks, loses to Obama, Santorum can hold himself up as the guy who tried to keep the party from making the mistake of "choosing the more moderate candidate" who is "indistinguishable from Obama."

2. He's gunning for the VP job
"There is rampant speculation that [Santorum] is angling for the vice-presidential nomination, in spite of his harsh words for Romney," says Robert Costa at National Review. Getting on the ticket this year might be Santorum's best bet to stand out in a crowded 2016 field. And while the idea of Romney offering an archrival the No. 2 slot might seem laughable "inside Romney World," it's not. If Romney can't muster the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, "Santorum could play hardball" and demand the VP slot in exchange for his delegates.

3. He's cementing his status as a national leader
Santorum started this political season "as an afterthought," says Mark Murray at MSNBC. He was merely a former Pennsylvania senator who lost his job in a humiliating 2006 landslide. But "he ultimately emerged as Mitt Romney's chief rival," piling up more victories than Mike Huckabee did in 2008. The long fight "has repaired some of the political damage he sustained in 2006," and established him as a national force to be reckoned with in 2016 and 2020.

4. He's hoping to go out on a high note
"It would be hard for Santorum to now make a graceful exit in the name of party unity, having fought Romney with such ferocity," says Chris Stirewalt at Fox News. The best he can hope for is "vindicating himself" on April 24, with one last victory in his home state of Pennsylvania. It would be a "mostly symbolic victory," as he'd still have no realistic path to the nomination. Still, it would be "a final repudiation of moderate Republicanism" — in a swing state, no less — as well as "an affirmation of his candidacy and a valedictory for his campaign."

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