Santorum Exits GOP Race, Clears Way For Romney Nomination

Rick Santorum’s exit from the presidential race on Tuesday essentially guaranteed Mitt Romney the Republican nomination and began the general-election phase of the campaign.

The move, which came after a string of Romney primary wins and amid growing calls from the party for the former Pennsylvania senator to throw in the towel, also increased Santorum’s standing within the party.

His campaign beat expectations, winning 11 states, but by making the announcement when he did, Santorum came across as a team player willing to do what’s best for the party.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was quick to praise Santorum’s decision.

Even Romney acknowledged the importance of Santorum’s decision.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell argued that Santorum’s withdrawal had further weakened Gingrich since Romney can now afford to ignore him rather than try to negotiate with him to get out.

“Gingrich has effectively become fully irrelevant,” he said.

O’Connell said Santorum had greatly enhanced his standing in the party — but whether that will be a role in Romney’s administration or as a spokesman for religious conservatives remains to be seen.

“By gracefully exiting and being a team player, Santorum preserves a bright political future,” he said. “He’s not going to be the VP — it’s clear this is not Reagan and Bush in 1980. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a part of the administration as a department secretary.”

Read more from Daniel Strauss and Cameron Joseph at The Hill

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published this page in In The News 2012-04-10 21:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy