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Rick Santorum ends his presidential campaign: 5 takeaways
The conservative standard-bearer bows out, marking a new stage in the GOP's attempt to take back the White House
 
"This presidential race is over for me," Rick Santorum said Tuesday in Gettysburg, Pa. "We will suspend our campaign effective today."
"This presidential race is over for me," Rick Santorum said Tuesday in Gettysburg, Pa. "We will suspend our campaign effective today."
Mark Hirsch/Getty Images

Rick Santorum is out of the presidential race. The former senator from Pennsylvania announced on Tuesday afternoon that he will suspend his bid for the GOP nomination, saying that the illness of his young daughter Bella, who was born with a rare genetic condition, led him to reassess the future of his struggling campaign over the weekend. Santorum had established himself as the conservative alternative to the more moderate Mitt Romney — whom he did not endorse on Tuesday — but in recent weeks, Romney had clearly pulled away, building a daunting lead in the delegate count. Still, Santorum's exit sent reverberations through the GOP primary contest, and beyond. Here, five takeaways from his withdrawal: 

1. The Republican primary is finally over
Santorum's exit "virtually assures that Romney will secure the Republican Party's nomination," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. Santorum was running in second place, and the remaining candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul — who both insisted after Santorum's announcement that they aren't dropping out — are hopelessly behind in the delegate count. This race is over.

2. Romney gets to avoid some embarrassing losses...
"Surely, Romney is happy about not having to seriously contest the remaining two months of primaries," says Jonathan Bernstein at The Washington Post. He now gets to dodge some close battles — and potentially humiliating losses — in primaries scheduled for May in southern states like Texas, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Santorum had billed Texas, a rock-ribbed conservative state, as "a winner-take-all presidential showdown," says Richard Dunham of The Houston Chronicle. Not anymore.

3. ...And so does Santorum
Santorum was running behind Romney even in his home state of Pennsylvania — where he lost his 2006 bid for a third Senate term in a historic landslide. So in many ways, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post, Santorum is taking "the easy way out," calling it quits before a "potentially humiliating loss in his home state" — a loss that could have derailed his future political plans.

4. Romney can now focus entirely on Obama...
"With Santorum out of the race, Romney can turn his full attention toward a general election against President Obama," say Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo. Indeed, even though Santorum had almost no hope of beating Romney, the frontrunner's campaign had "planned on spending between one and two million dollars" to bury Santorum in the April 24 Pennsylvania primary, says Sam Stein at The Huffington Post. That's money that Romney can now use to hammer Obama instead.

5. ...And Santorum can focus on his next move
Right-wing activists love Santorum, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post, and "that makes the conservative world his oyster." He could follow Mike Huckabee's path and become "a leading conservative commentator," or jump into the presidential race in 2016 or 2020 — not as an "asterisk," as he began this cycle, but as a "serious and credible candidate."

 

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