Feature

Santorum bows out

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign, clearing the way for Mitt Romney.

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign this week, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to claim the Republican primary race unhindered. With his strong backing from evangelical and ultraconservative Republicans, Santorum had been the last candidate with any chance of denying Romney the nomination. But with his campaign around $1 million in debt, his disabled infant daughter hospitalized over the weekend, and Romney’s lead in the delegate count all but insurmountable, Santorum decided it was time to drop out. In his farewell speech, the former senator said he would “continue to go out and fight and defeat President Barack Obama,” but did not mention Romney by name. Romney called Santorum “an able and worthy competitor” and “an important voice in our party.” 

Rick Santorum’s achievement in this race shouldn’t be underestimated, said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com. He started out with little more than “convictions and a shoestring,” but ended up winning 11 state contests and galvanizing evangelical voters by refusing to compromise his moral principles. His failure to expand on that base sealed his defeat—but he can exit this race “with his head held high.”

Yes, Santorum did “more with less” than almost any candidate in history, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. Not only did he have no money or organization, he had no ideas except to bring back the social and sexual mores of the 1950s. He only survived this long because every other conservative option had either “been destroyed by Romney’s money or collapsed on its own.’’ The idea that this moralistic Washington retread has a national political future “is comical.”

Give him more credit than that, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Santorum’s rousing campaign theme of rebuilding America made Romney’s “recitation of his résumé” look flat by comparison. Santorum forced the likely presidential candidate to “lift his performance and improve his platform,” making him a stronger contender in the long run. If Romney wins in November, “Santorum’s strong run will be part of the victory story.”

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